Norfolk Island Reform Update Issue 4—September 2015
Message from Administrator
There have been a number of recent announcements which will impact the Norfolk Island community in positive ways, such as the new KAVHA Advisory Committee and the change to our time zone, but most notably, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP has been sworn in as the Australian Government Minister for Territories, Local Government and Major Projects.
These changes continue the Australian Government's efforts in building a stronger and more resilient community on Norfolk Island.
With just another nine months until new arrangements are in place for social services, customs, immigration, taxation and other government services, many people are impatient for information about the impact of these.
The best advice, however, remains the same—seek information from the Australian Government Information Centre about how some of the known changes might affect you, and what you may have to do to prepare for them.
For advice about your own personal financial circumstances you should consult qualified, reputable and registered financial advisers, including those services available through the banks on Island.
Change needs to be measured and gradual because of its complexity, but I believe change will put Norfolk Island onto a sustainable footing for the future. Change will deliver better consumer and patient focussed services, more and better utilised resources to deliver accredited health care services, and a restructuring of local charges to be equitable. With the introduction of Medicare, change will end current health levy arrangements with Norfolk Island health services being better resourced by being part of the larger Australian taxpayer funded scheme.
There will also be new arrangements for the funding and delivery of services by the Regional Council, once established in 2016. Consultation on this is underway through the release of Discussion Paper No 2 by the Advisory Council and will help guide decisions about this change.
The Hon Gary Hardgrave
New Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historic Area (KAVHA) Advisory Committee
Last week I announced the establishment of a new Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historic Area (KAVHA) Advisory Committee to ensure effective site management. Membership will comprise at least two community representatives and at least two experts in heritage, collections, land management and/or tourism.
I encourage community representatives interested in contributing to a positive future for KAVHA and who wish to be considered as members of the KAVHA Advisory Committee to prepare a written Expression of Interest. Further information is available in my media release of 23 September 2015 and at http://regional.gov.au/territories/norfolk_island/ad ministrator/media/2015/ni-a-mr-201530.aspx. Applications should be submitted to: email@example.com by Monday 5 October 2015.
Australian Government and state agencies working together for Norfolk Island
The Australian Government remains committed to reforms on Norfolk Island to ensure a sustainable, stronger and more prosperous Norfolk Island community.
We are now three months into the interim transition period of the delivery of reform for Norfolk Island, with the provision of a range of services to commence on 1 July 2016. Change of this nature takes an enormous amount of planning and preparation to ensure the transition is effective.
To support this, a whole of Australian Government Norfolk Island Taskforce was established in Canberra and continues to provide strategic oversight and coordination of delivery of government services, programmes and initiatives on Norfolk Island. Also, the Australian and New South Wales (NSW) Governments have established a Steering Committee to discuss the arrangements for some state-type services on Norfolk Island, with health and education as the key priority areas.
While a number of decisions are continuing to be made and operational plans are being developed, let me assure you the community and Norfolk Island businesses are always a key part of the considerations.
The work in Canberra and with NSW is paralleled by the Advisory Council which, as mentioned earlier, has just released its Discussion Paper No 2. I also continue to consult directly with the community.
Time zone changes
Earlier this month I advised the community of the permanent move to a changed time zone for Norfolk Island, effective from 4 October 2015.
This means, at 2am on Sunday 4 October 2015, Norfolk Island time will become 1.30am. One of the easiest ways to make sure you have the correct time is for residents and visitors to set clocks and watches back by half an hour as you go to bed on the night of Saturday 3 October 2015.
This change will provide easier access for local businesses when engaging with the mainland. This is also likely to bring increased opportunities and appeal to the Island's major tourist market.
It will have a minor impact on the aircraft arrival and departures times to and from Norfolk Island. Air New Zealand has, and will continue to, publicise the changed arrangements.
ATO plans to engage with community about what they can expect
Staff at the Australian Tax Office have advised they are working on some information specifically for Norfolk Island residents, about the changes coming next year. They are close to publishing a Norfolk Island specific webpage, and intend to start an email subscription newsletter specifically for people in business.
I'll let you know more about the newsletter as it comes to hand. They're also keen to hear about what information you need, so they can help you better understand the changes impacting you. There will be a short ATO survey available in the coming weeks and I will let you know when this is available and how you will be able to give the ATO your advice.
Historical Finds in KAVHA
KAVHA has been the scene of several new works projects in recent weeks and many more are planned over the coming twelve months.
Since February, several projects have involved the assistance of Dr Douglas Hobbs, a supervising archaeologist. Over 2,500 objects have been unearthed, recorded and catalogued in cooperation with staff from the Norfolk Island Museums. Artefacts recovered date from the late Second and early Third Settlement periods and contain a mix of glass, ceramic, bone, metal and shell material. Most notable of the recent finds, were the convict leg irons uncovered at the Blacksmith's Compound. The recent Norfolk Island Museums article detailed the finds and how the objects will be preserved, and can be accessed on the Museum Facebook page.
KAVHA—improving safety and mobility
The KAVHA works team have recently completed a series of important safety, disability access and stabilisation works around the site funded by the Australian Government. These include upgrades to the Blacksmith's Compound and the Double Boat Shed as well as building a wheelchair access ramp to Government House.
These works improve safety and provide ease of access for all users.
The next twelve months will see additional projects further enhance access to the site, including disabled access toilets and additional safety works being undertaken.
Did you know?
The Australian Government is continuing to work to understand the needs of the community and how health services will be provided in the future. We can however provide answers to common questions below.
Will medical evacuation (medivac) to Australia continue?
Evacuations from Norfolk Island for medical reasons will continue to occur, with the Australian Government bearing the full cost of these from 1 July 2016.
Will there be any immediate changes to the health arrangements on Norfolk Island?
The current arrangements for health and aged care will continue into the foreseeable future, and will be influenced by Australian Government discussions with the New South Wales Government.
What is Medicare?
Medicare provides payments and services which can help people use health care services or buy medicines. Medicare services are delivered by Medicare-accredited providers.
Do I have to pay the Medicare levy AND the Norfolk Island Health Care and Medical Evacuation Levy after 1 July 2016?
No. The Norfolk Island Health Care levy will cease on 30 June 2016. The Medicare levy will commence on 1 July 2016. Until then, residents should continue with current arrangements.
Australian Government Information Centre Burnt Pine
Many residents have already popped in to the Australian Government Information Centre at Burnt Pine to ask questions or meet visiting Australian Government officials. If you haven't already done so, I encourage all of the community to visit the Information Centre and ask questions you have about the changes ahead as well as to access the computer terminals and online tools to source information—there are also various information products and forms available to assist in accessing the information you need.
The Information Centre is located at World Traders in Burnt Pine and is open daily from 10.00am to 4.00pm (closing for lunch from 1.30pm to 2.30pm). The Centre is available for you to drop in at any time during opening hours and appointments are not required unless specifically stated—you can contact Lorraine at the Centre on 23465.