British MP Accuses Australia Of Colonization Over Norfolk Island Policy

Backbencher calls for a totally new approach following 'annexation'

By Europe correspondent James Glenday

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Oct. 28, 2016) – A British backbencher has launched a scathing attack on the Federal Government, accusing it of colonising and annexing Norfolk Island.

Conservative Andrew Rosindell, who is the head of the British Parliamentary group for Australia and New Zealand, is demanding the island's Parliament be restored and calling for a "totally new" approach from Canberra.

He and two other MPs who recently visited the island also want the Administrator, former Liberal MP Gary Hardgrave, to be sacked, echoing calls that One Nation leader Pauline Hanson made earlier this month.

"We live in 2016 not 1716," Mr Rosindell said.

In a bipartisan move, Norfolk Island's legislative assembly was scrapped last year to be replaced with a regional council.

The island, which struggled for years to raise enough cash to pay for services for its 1,700 residents, was also granted access to Australian welfare and forced to pay income tax.

Some locals welcomed the move and hoped the island's ailing infrastructure would be fixed.

But others, including several former members of the local assembly, were fiercely opposed and recently asked the United Nations for help in a bid to retain self-rule.

Mr Rosindell claims opposition to "Australia's takeover" is growing.

"Australia can be friends with Norfolk Island and look after them in the same way [Britain] looks after the Isle of Man or the Falkland Islands — we don't force them to be under the control of Westminster," he said.

Government rejects the claims

The Federal Minister responsible for the island, Fiona Nash, in a statement rejected the call to sack Mr Hardgrave "based on vague and unsubstantiated allegations".

She also said the Government was "investing $136 million" into the island in addition to the $27.5 million "gifted" before the assembly was scrapped.

The British Government believes Norfolk Island is a matter for Australia and points out Mr Rosindell's opinion has no link to government policy.

Despite his strong words, Mr Rosindell said he was a big fan of Australia.

He has repeatedly called for a special line at London's Heathrow Airport for countries that have the Queen as head of state and hopes that will happen once the UK leaves the EU.

"It seems crazy to me that an Australian turns up at Heathrow and is treated worse than an Austrian," he said.

He said Brexit was a great opportunity for Australia, New Zealand and Canada to work much more closely together.

"There's no reason we couldn't share High Commissions or diplomatic facilities in some places," he said.

"Norfolk Island aside, Australia and Britain agree on almost everything."

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