Norfolk Islanders Opposed To Canberra Takeover Being Silenced

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

People for Democracy movement claims it’s being censored

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 2, 2016) – The Norfolk Island People for Democracy movement says it's being censored for telling the truth about Australia's reforms on the island.

Last week Norfolk's executive director Peter Gesling told Radio Norfolk not to broadcast some interviews or public announcements, saying he was applying the local Broadcasting Act, which had previously been ignored by the station's management.

He said legislation did not allow the broadcasting of specific political views, as Radio Norfolk was a government radio station.

"The requirement is that there be a balance in approach and specific political views are not to aired on the radio and all I did was advise the manager of the radio station and the staff of the radio station of their responsibility under the Act and the broadcasting guidelines."

Mr Gesling denied the restriction was a curb on free speech.

But the Norfolk Island People for Democracy's Lisle Snell, who is a former chief minister, said part of their aim has been to question the validity of the Australian reform process.

"We feel that the process hasn't been done in a consultative manner. A lot of the consultaton reports are false. The people of Norfolk Island and indeed the people of Australia have been given falsehoods, they have been told incorrect information and they have been misled. And we have brought those to the attention of the media, and we have been censored for it."

Opinion in Norfolk is split over controversial reforms initiated by the Australian parliament last year, stripping the island of its autonomy and preparing it to become a regional council under the auspices of New South Wales.

The Norfolk Island People for Democracy is campaigning for Australia to change its mind and hoping to list with the United Nations as a non self governing territory, saying it is upset at the broadcasting limits.

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