Australia is just going to ruin this wonderful place.
Being in the tourist game you hear this one a lot. When you try to dig a little deeper or ask a question like "what do you mean?" then the vehemence and forthrightness falters and usually the person mumbles out something to do with high rise or casinos or dole bludgers..both of which we address later. My question back to them is "give me an example of what you mean. Which other island has Australia ruined?" They are stumped. They can't think of one. You might get the occasional person bring up Christmas Island's detention centre and I ask if they have ever been there to see the natural beauty and wonder of the island that is being preserved through government and local co-dependance. The detention centre is a small part of a large picture. But Australia has thousands of islands, surely you can think of one. They must be ruining them all over the place, swinging wrecking balls and evicting populations of disgruntled natives. There must be a refugee crisis right on our doorstep to rival Europe. Surely?
Well, of course, it is nonsense. Australian islands are pristine natural environments that are not only treated with respect but financially rewarded through land and coastal grants, infrastructure grants, expert engagement on threatened species, tourism assistance, forward planning and transparent engagement. MYTH BUSTED
Australia is just after our gas and oil reserves
What? Yep, you heard right Norfolk Island is apparently sitting on the largest deposit of coal seam gas since ...well, ever. and Australia has been conspiring for thirty years to retrieve it and screw the Norfolk Island people out of it's birthright of oodles and oodles of Gas money. This is a conspiracy theory that is doing the rounds with no basis of fact or evidence at all. Even if it is true, why shouldn't Australia exploit it's own territorial waters (environmental impacts and debates aside). Do individuals who spout this line of thinking believe that they have rights to whatever is found in the vicinity. Even the indigenous people in Australia have land rights only from the topsoil upwards, so what makes these individuals think that they have rights to the ocean floor without shelling out a cent? MYTH BUSTED
Australia has been out to get us for years
False: Australia has been warning through various reports and committees since the late nineties that if Norfolk didn't change it's governance structure or find cost cutting methods then the economic outlook would be bleak. Those warnings have persisted and the NIG failed to act on them. In fact they did the opposite, tightening immigration, stifling investment, protectionism, shunning investment opportunities, and more, ensuring the downward slide continued. MYTH BUSTED
All the dole bludgers will swamp the island
False: First of all we agree that bludging on the dole is not on and is against our way of life. On the flipside, the dole is an important part of Australia's safety net for the disadvantaged and vulnerable. The first myth busted is this. It is illegal (if you are already on the dole) to move from a larger population to a smaller one if you can't find work. Current dole bludgers would need to live in a place with less than 2000 people to be able to move to Norfolk and stay on the dole. There is also the work for the dole scheme which is an invaluable tool to help people find work and self worth. Also I can barely afford to live here now and I work two jobs, how on earth will a dole bludger be able to afford it? MYTH BUSTED
You will just have high rise and resorts everywhere.
An important aspect of our new regional council is town planning responsibilites. Local environment and buildings impacting on the island will all have to go through a locally elected council for approvals and assessments. The proposed Port Arthur Resort has the full approval of the Port Arthur Site Management Authority and will replace a hideous 1970's motel currently on the site. It will be built with traditional concepts in mind incorporating gardens and architecture in keeping with the environment with an emphasis on unobtrusiveness. Doesn't sound like a bad deal, and keep in mind this project has been on the drawing board for over 10years. It doesn't sound like everyone is rushing to ruin this site or dump a monstrosity right in the middle of the convict precinct. All local approvals must be obtained. MYTH BUSTED
The Current 'footpath is a waste of time and purely a political exercise.
I suppose you can be cynical about everything. My thoughts are these. If the Commonwealth is looking to ruin Norfolk island and everything it holds dear and wreck its finances, why are they not introducing GST to the island? Why is Superannuation and minimum wages being phased in over many years? Why also, are rates being phased in? Why is the important road and pier upgrades happening NOW? Why is the Commonwealth spending thousands of dollars bringing over experts and advisors to help educate the community through free workshops? Everyone can see what needs improving on island and the Commonwealth are actually doing something about it. This won't sit well with anyone who hates change on any level, but you know what? Tough. It's time Norfolk Islanders' standard of living was raised to that of mainland Australians. It's overdue, it's appreciated by many and it is the ONLY realistic option for real change NOW.
We will be busting more myths each week or as they present themselves.