Infrastructure But At What Cost?
With the Chinese leader currently visiting Papua New Guinea to observe Chinese investment in infrastructure projects and the machinations of the Chinese-US foreign policy in the South Pacific it is timely to revisit the Australian-Norfolk Island dynamic as far as infrastructure loans and restrictions imposed during the years of self government (79 - 16).
After the Commonwealth bailout of Norfolk Island in July 2016 it was commonly and openly stated by those opposed that if only there weren't restrictions on who the Norfolk island Assembly could loan money from then no bailout would have been required. I am not saying that the Assembly would have run straight to China or Japan or some other foreign entity, but you can see why this restriction was put in place. Poorer countries or states cannot resist the promise of instant infrastructure upgrades and it isn't until the loans are called in that the problems begin. We saw this with the raising of issues such as housing a detention centre on the island and even considering taking Guantanamo Bay detainees who were being expelled from the US (for a price) https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-transfers-15-guantanamo-bay-detainees-1471303872
During the period of self government on Norfolk the Australian government granted interest free loans for various improvements such as airport, tourist bureau, water assurance scheme and more. At least one of these loans has yet to be repaid and has been passed to the local council to cover. With the federal government's injection of funds into Norfolk Island, it is probable that the Council will ask for the loans to be forgiven.
But what of PNG and Vanuatu when they ask for the Chinese to forgive their loans? Or when they ask for more? I wonder what stipulations will be put to them?