Norfolk Island to move from NSW to Qld under new federal funding agreement

An island more than 1,000 km from the Australian mainland is on the verge of a change of state allegiance over its health and education services.

It is the small Australian island where the cows have priority, the inhabitants have their own language and Noumea is a closer neighbor than Sydney or Brisbane.

And as of early 2022, another administrative quirk is set to change the landscape for residents of Norfolk Island.

Education and health services on the remote South Pacific outcrop will be provided by Queensland from January 1, as part of a new federal funding agreement that is expected to increasingly shift jurisdiction over the island far away of New South Wales.

Norfolk, about 8 km long by 5 km wide, is in its seventh year of federal administration after its own self-governance was discontinued in 2015 due to growing economic problems.

Since then, health and education services for the island’s 1,700 permanent residents have been managed by NSW from over 1,400 km away, at a reported cost of over $ 30 million per year.

Federal Budget 2021-2022 committed $ 18.7 million to help NSW provide services on Norfolk Island, including a hospital, multi-purpose elderly care facility, and a central school which, in 2018, had 280 students.

Hints that Queensland was evaluating Norfolk emerged earlier this year when Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk noted that NSW was considering “relinquishing its responsibilities”.

NSW intended to cease management of the island in June, but extended it until December 31 while negotiations were ongoing.

Details of the deal between Queensland and the Federal Government have been scarce since an agreement was reached in June, but on Tuesday an official date of January 1 was set.

Queensland has said it is in the best position to take care of the island, given its experience and history of managing small isolated communities.

Other services may also soon move under the Queensland banner as the deal progresses.

“I am proud of the Queensland Government’s long history of delivering world-class services in geographically remote locations, and we look forward to tailoring future delivery models to meet the unique and long-term needs of the community of Norfolk Island, ”said Premier Palaszczuk. .

The current big boss of Norfolk Island is former Tasmanian Liberal MP Eric Hutchinson, who was appointed administrator of the island for a third two-year term in March.

Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace led a fact-finding mission to the island in April, with Ms Palaszczuk noting that “almost everyone the delegation spoke to had some connection to Queensland” .

“Family living here or children studying here, wherever they go or having access to specialist health services – many said they had a preference for Queensland health services,” Ms. Palaszczuk said.

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