I would like to take a moment and thank the real heroes of the Norfolk Island story. In any community the people are its greatest asset and those people who lived and traded on island for the last ten years when things were extremely difficult financially are the ones who have shown true grit and are the ones who deserve to reap the rewards now.
Here is a snapshot of what has been happening to the Norfolk economy since July 2016. The date is significant as it is when our regional council was formed and when the federal government of Australia took over the Federal and most state functions of the island, leaving the locals to look after local matters.
Reports from the Real Estate Agencies indicate that since July 2016 (and slightly prior) the property market has picked up substantially on island. The bottom end of the property market (less than 300k) has been "mopped up" and some large sales (7-800k) are coming through. Investors are confident that the economy is stabilizing and can see the writing on the wall that Norfolk has only one way to go and that is up. high end rental properties are seeing a spike in rents with $3-400 per week not uncommon. There are still plenty of low end rentals and many are looking at upgrading properties to increase yield. Sales of properties are well into the double digits since July which is significant as it is a sign of growth and stability and best of all bank and consumer confidence.
Money onto the island.
-Over 9 million dollars was paid out to Ädmin (public service) workers in the form of severance packages before jobs were restrucured and readvertised. Many were reemployed again as support staff for the Regional Council. That's 9 million dollars onto the island that never existed before. The equivalent of the spend of 36 cruise ships.
-The Federal Government has also started spending the 13 million dollars allocated for the Cascade Pier Upgrade Project. Though not all of this money will remailn on island it is important for jobs and growth into the future.
- Road resurfacing has begun and infrastrucure projects are underway at the hospital and school employing the bulk of tradies on island and utilising materials from local businesses.
-The NBN has been rolling out on island since July 2016 seeing a sharp decline in prices for telecommunications.
Over 150 million dollars has been allocated to Norfolk's transition into the 20th century
Since July 2016 petol prices have decreased dramatically from $2.60/litre to $1.70/litre. Electricity costs are also down over 10 cents a kilowatt hour. Internet subscriptions have also decreased markedly due to the NBN rollout.
Since Medicare has been introduced to the island the Federal government has paid for over 20 medical evacuations (30k each) and the increase in evacuations indicate that serious cases were not being sent off the island previously due to a lack of afforability. The community also receives mostly free health care in line with Australian practices Medication is also subsidised for the first time. The hospital is also receiving new medical equipment and infrastructure upgrades. Once again the spend here is in the millions of dollars.
Air New Zealand are being underwritten by the Federal Government to fly into and out of Norfolk island in an effort to provide a stable and modern airline service to Norfolk. This stability has seen tourism increase and our forward planning to proceed with confidence that planes will run regularly and on time. Millions of dollars have been spent to make this happen and was one of the first actions taken due to its importance on the economy.
No Australian GST will be implemented on island and Norfolk Islanders purchasing products from the mainland will be exempt. The Centre For International Economics report of 2014 indicated that intrducing GST to Norfolk would be detrimental and the federal Government have agreed.
Since Norfolk island has been reincorporated into the Australian taxation system it has been recognised by Australian Tourism as an territory and has been marketed through social media channels and incorporation into the Tourism Data Warehouse. This is only the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship which also sees us take on Ray Martin as our new ambassador. Ray has already appeared online and on the back of council buses in Sydney.
History, Heritage and Environment
New boards have been established for the KAVHA convict area, the hospital, the tourism bureau et al incorporating international and local experts in their fields. The investment by the federal government into these areas including national parks runs into the many millions of dollars. Infrastructure remains the focus at this early stage with cultural development and fiscal responsibility to follow. Conservation projects have been touted and more will follow.
Since July 2016 the permanent population has increased dramatically on island with around 1800 people now living here. This is in stark contrast to less than 1300 in 2010. Local families are returning as well as people with cultural and distant connections to the island. There are also many investors snapping up bargains in the property and business markets.
Since July 2016 Asbestos and crushed cans as well as computing waste have been shipped off the island at great cost. These have been stockpiled at the waste management centre for many years. There are moves to institute a user pays system for waste dumping and education for waste sorting and minimisation. More on this to follow.
The Federal Government have reassured the Norfolk Islanders of Pitcairn descent that their established cultural practices and public holidays will not be tampered with. Including cows wandering freely and Bounty Day celebrations.
We are seeing a culture of equality prevailing on island with everyone being treated the same regardless of ethnicity or status. A progressive taxation system replaces the previous regressive taxation system and monopolies have been put on notice. The rich will pay their fair share for the betterment and progression of this island which will be a welcome change.
Stay tuned for more positive health reports.