Norfolk Island Reform Update Issue 12—May 2016

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PDF: 740 KB ReadSpeaker

Message from Administrator

I wish to thank members of Norfolk Island community for their continued feedback and participation in consultations which help to inform decisions by government. This includes feedback about the future Norfolk Island Regional Council and the second draft Community Strategic Plan, recently distributed by the Executive Director.

I welcome feedback about further reform and also direct follow-up with Australian Government departments which will provide services to the community from 1 July 2016. Officers from the Department of Human Services are based at the Australian Government Information Centre to accept enrolment forms for Medicare and discuss eligibility for payments and services available from 1 July 2016.

The New South Wales Government continues to be actively engaged in preparing to deliver health and education services. Good progress is being made with building works and staff training to prepare for the Norfolk Island Health and Residential Aged Care Service (NIHRACS). Health and aged care services will be delivered from the current hospital location.

Community members identified to me their interest in preserving Norfolk Island's public holidays. This has been confirmed in the latest Ordinance changes made on 5 May 2016. Further detail on the Ordinance changes is covered in this edition of the Reform Update.

Equally, it was members of the public who identified the need for a temporary exemption to help business prepare for the introduction of mainland taxation on 1 July. An exemption category has now been agreed for certain businesses that are changing their structure without changing beneficial ownership.

On 5 February 2016, I announced a training and education program for Norfolk Island. This was deliberately focused on the private sector, small business and individuals. There has been a great response from the community with strong uptake of the training opportunities, demonstrating a strong desire for continuing professional development. Over the past three months my Office has facilitated a number of visits to the Island by training service providers, with hundreds of individual training opportunities. This has helped individuals and small businesses prepare for the introduction of tax but also to consider the longer-term fundamentals of small business planning. There were also accredited training opportunities for people working in the various sectors to obtain or renew vocational qualifications.

The Hon Gary Hardgrave

New Ordinances

On 1 July 2016, Norfolk Island will enter the Australian social security, tax and Medicare systems. New South Wales will manage health services on the Island and a new Regional Council will start to operate. On 5 May 2016, the Governor-General made eight new Ordinances to support these changes.

Most NSW laws are suspended from applying from 1 July 2016. This is to allow further work to be done to prepare the community and support businesses before a further rollout of laws based on those in NSW can be explored.

What does this mean for health?

The Norfolk Island Hospital Enterprise has been renamed to the Norfolk Island Health and Residential Aged Care Service (NIHRACS). NIHRACS will deliver acute care, residential aged care and community health services. To support the management of NIHRACS, the Ordinances apply some NSW health legislation to Norfolk Island.

The Commonwealth Minister will appoint a professional health manager to be the Manager of NIHRACS, on the advice of the NSW Government. Staff employed by the Norfolk Island Hospital Enterprise will continue to be employed after 1 July 2016 by the NIHRACS.

The Ordinances strengthen health practitioner registration requirements. This means all health professionals on Norfolk Island will have to maintain qualifications to mainland standards.

The Ordinances mean the Hospital facilities can transfer to the Commonwealth. This will allow the Australian Government to more easily invest in upgrading the premises. In the interim, the Australian Government is funding initial upgrades to the hospital facility and medical equipment.

The Norfolk Island Healthcare Levy has been switched off from 1 July 2016. This is because the Commonwealth will meet the costs of providing public health services after this date.

What does this mean for your Regional Council?

The Regional Council will continue to provide some state level services on behalf of the Australian Government. The cost of these services will be met by the Australian Government.

The Ordinances set up the new Norfolk Island Regional Council. Like councils on mainland Australia it will have a wide range of responsibilities. As well as the state level services funded by the Commonwealth, the Regional Council will be responsible for rates, roads and grounds maintenance, local infrastructure construction and maintenance, cemetery, waste management, community services and grants management.

Land planning arrangements have not been changed. The Norfolk Island Plan will continue and land planning will be a responsibility of the Regional Council.

As with councils across Australia, the Norfolk Island Regional Council will need to raise revenue from land rates. In 2016–17 the Council will have to raise at least $500,000 from land rates. In 2017–18 and later years the minimum is $1 million. This revenue is important to the sustainability of the Regional Council.

The Ordinances preserve existing liquor retailing arrangements. This will keep this revenue source for the Council.

What does this mean for business?

The Norfolk Island GST is repealed from 1 July 2016 and not replaced. Businesses will still need to submit their GST returns for the period up to 30 June 2016. Businesses also need to maintain their GST records for another 18 months so final liabilities can be calculated.

The Ordinances repeal parts of Norfolk Island employment law that will be covered by the Fair Work Act 2009. Existing Norfolk Island Workplace Health and Safety law will continue after 1 July 2016 until further extension of law modelled on NSW law takes place.

From 1 July 2016, employees will also begin to accrue long service leave entitlements similar to those in NSW.

Local public holidays for Foundation Day, Bounty Day, Queen's Birthday, Show Day and Thanksgiving will continue.

In response to community feedback the business transactions levy for certain business transactions has been suspended until 30 June 2017. This will assist businesses to restructure to the Australian tax system.

This change means that for a period of 12 months, the business transactions levy will not be imposed on transactions which result in no change to the beneficial ownership of property.

In this context, a ‘beneficial owner’ of property means:

  1. The individual who ultimately owns or controls a company; and/or
  2. The individual on whose behalf a transaction is being conducted. The definition includes individuals who exercise effective control over a legal person (e.g. a corporation) or arrangement.

Businesses should seek further advice if they are uncertain if this exemption will apply to them.

Further information about the specific ordinances can be found via the below web addresses.

The Department of Human Services is here to answer your questions and help you lodge your paper claims

Staff from the Department of Human Services are on Norfolk Island. They're here to answer your questions and help you lodge early paper claims for a payment or request a child support assessment before 1 July 2016.

You can now lodge your early claim with our staff at the Australian Government Information Centre.

For more information about payments and services, go to www.humanservices.gov.au or watch the Norfolk Island video on the Department of Human Services YouTube channel.

Important information

You'll receive your final Norfolk Island Social Services benefit payment on 30 June 2016. You will not automatically receive payments from the Department of Human Services after this date.

In order to receive a payment or service, first you need to lodge a claim and you'll be informed if it's successful. You can download the relevant form, depending on your circumstances, from www.humanservices.gov.au/forms

Visas

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has updated its information on proposed transitional visa arrangements for foreign national permit holders and Norfolk Island permanent residents.

The updated information relates to the following:

  • the end date for submitting Norfolk Island permit and residency applications
  • transitional arrangements for Unrestricted Entry Permit holders (New Zealand citizens) who will be outside Norfolk Island on 30 June 2016
  • transitional arrangements for minors and dependant permit holders
  • children of foreign national permit holders and residents born before 1 July 2016
  • children of foreign national permit holders and residents born after 1 July 2016
  • requirements for the five (5) in seven (7) years residence requirement for the Confirmatory Residence (subclass 808) visa.

This information, including copies of information packages distributed at the information sessions and during individual consultations in March, is available from the Australian Government Information Centre.

If you have any questions about Australian immigration arrangements from 1 July 2016, please contact Australian Border Force Inspector Neale Turner at the Australian Government Information Centre.

ATO visit in June

Do you have more than one job and estimate that you will earn more than $18,200 a year?

The Tax Office will be on Norfolk Island in the week commencing 20 June 2016. During this visit the main focus is to help people with more than one job to apply for a withholding variation to ensure they do not have more tax withheld from their salary or wages than they need to.

A seminar will also be held to assist employers to work out how much tax to withhold including how to apply a varied rate of tax.

If you would like to book to meet with the ATO, please email your contact details to withholding@ato.gov.au or drop in and give them to Lorraine at the Australian Government Information Centre.

Did you know?

Norfolk Island joins Australia's largest logistical peacetime operation, the Census of Population and Housing for the first time on Tuesday, 9 August 2016.

The Census will provide an accurate snapshot of Norfolk Island and its characteristics.

The information Islanders provide will help plan the future of Norfolk Island's services and infrastructure, including housing, education, healthcare and the environment.

From 29 July 2016, Census Field Officers will begin delivering Census materials to households and non-private dwellings across the island, to make sure people are counted on Census night. Islanders must make sure forms are completed fully and accurately on Census night.

In 2011, Norfolk Island's Census data showed there was a total population of 1,796 people, 892 occupied private dwellings and an average yearly household income of $29,000. To put that into perspective, only 10 years prior in the 2001 Census, the Norfolk Island population was 2,601 with 994 occupied private dwellings and an average yearly household income of $20,800.

The Census is compulsory for all Australians on both the mainland and external territories, including, Norfolk Island. The information provided will not be shared with any third party or other government agency.

More information on the Census can be found at www.census.abs.gov.au

Census Field Officer jobs available in Norfolk Island

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is currently recruiting Census Field Officers who will help count every person and household on Norfolk Island on Census night on Tuesday, 9 August 2016.

There are three local Field Officer positions available for eligible Norfolk Islanders who will deliver Census forms to all private and non-private dwellings on Norfolk Island. Field Officers will also remind and help people complete their Census or collect the paper forms after Census night.

As part of the role, Field Officers will need to be strong communicators and comfortable using technology including a computer, tablet or mobile device. Field Officers will play a critical role in the ABS's efforts to capture a statistical snapshot of Norfolk Island's population and social characteristics.

Employment contracts will commence on the 14 July and continue until 30 September 2016 and will offer flexible working hours. Field Officers earn up to $21.61 per hour and receive motor vehicle allowances and enjoy flexible working hours for up to three months.

Applicants must be Australian citizens or have the legal right to work in Australia, and hold a valid driver's licence. To view the applicant information kits and to apply online, visit www.abs.gov.au/careers. Applications close on 29 May 2016.

Transition to the Norfolk Island Health and Residential Aged Care Service

The Norfolk Island Health Enterprise will be known as the Norfolk Island Health and Residential Aged Care Service (NIHRACS) from 1 July 2016. The hospital buildings will remain and the community will continue to access health services from the existing facility, including inpatient care, residential aged care, general practitioners and emergency assistance.

Throughout the transition process, the Australian Government, NSW Health, and South Eastern Sydney Local Health District will work with the Norfolk Island community to ensure all residents have access to safe and appropriate health and residential aged care services from qualified professionals.

Over the years, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District has provided support to the Norfolk Island Health Enterprise via a memorandum of understanding. South Eastern Sydney Local Health District will continue to support NIHRACS as new models of care are developed to help meet the needs of the broader Norfolk Island population.

The transition to NIHRACS means new opportunities for the Norfolk Island community. The community will progressively benefit from improvements including:

  • Upgrades to existing facilities, such as hospital and equipment upgrades.
  • Training and education for existing hospital staff.
  • Employment—new opportunities for hospital staff to broaden their qualifications.

Access to Australian Government benefits

After 1 July 2016, eligible residents will have access to a range of Australian Government benefits including the Medicare Benefits Schedule and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Health care services and medicines will be more affordable. You can find out more about the Medicare Benefits Schedule and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, when you visit the Information Centre at Burnt Pine or visit the Australian Government website at www.health.gov.au

Upgrades already underway

The Australian Government is funding upgrades to hospital and medical equipment. These upgrades have already commenced, to ensure residents have access to safe and appropriate facilities and services. This work includes improvements to fire protection, water quality, plumbing, and accessibility including wheelchair access and disability parking; electrical upgrades and repairs to ensure the site is safety compliant; and general maintenance such as pest control and painting.

The community will be involved in designing services

A more comprehensive plan for health and residential aged services will be developed with strong input from the Norfolk Island community. The new multi-purpose service will deliver a range of acute and residential aged care services provided at the existing hospital buildings. This will include residential aged care and home care services for people with more complex aged care needs.

A Community and Clinical Advisory Committee will be established including members of the local community, to advise South Eastern Sydney Local Health District and NIHRACS. This will ensure the new service and models of care are relevant to the local community, meet expectations and deliver the best care for Norfolk Island residents.

Information sessions and training

NSW Health and South Eastern Sydney Local Health District will be visiting Norfolk Island over the coming months to consult with the community and workforce, and deliver training and development for clinical staff. Information sessions are being arranged with hospital staff and community groups, to discuss transition plans at the hospital. The intent is to ensure safe, quality health care is continued after 1 July 2016.

If you have questions about the transition and information sessions, please contact us at: NIHealth.Mailbox@infr astructure.gov.au or visit the Australian Government Information Centre at Burnt Pine.

You may have heard…

NBN Logo

The national broadband network (nbn) has arrived on Norfolk Island!

Residents and businesses on Norfolk Island can now order an nbn service. Getting connected to the nbn is as easy as placing an order with a Retail Service Provider. There are a number of Retail Service Providers offering internet services to Norfolk Island and can be found by googling Sky Muster Satellite plans. Then it's as easy as selecting an internet plan that suits your home or business. The Retail Service Provider you select will order the installation of your equipment through nbn and turn on your service, there are qualified nbn installers ready and waiting.

Access to fast, reliable internet services presents opportunities to the Norfolk Island community in education, business, tourism, entertainment, health care and social networking, giving residents the potential to be more productive, more creative, more efficient and more importantly more connected.

More information about Sky Muster™ and Retail Service Providers go to:
www.nbnco.com.au/connect-home-or-business/information-for-home/satellite.html.

Update—special infrastructure projects

Taylors Road Footpath and associated road works

Residents will have noticed that construction of the footpath linking Queen Elizabeth Avenue and Taylors Road (Channers Corner) is well advanced, with the kerb and gutter work nearing completion. This is an important road and pedestrian safety project for the island and, when complete, will improve the functionality of an important access route to the main business centre. This project has been a good example of co-operation between the Administration of Norfolk Island and the Australian Government and it is expected that this is the first of several desperately needed road improvements which will be rolled out on the island over the coming years.

For their own safety, and the safety of the works crew, residents and visitors are reminded to use the new unsealed path which will be completed in June 2016.

Road works are scheduled for completion by 30 June 2016.

Cascade Pier extension and refurbishment

Waterway Constructions is continuing to prepare for the construction phase of the Cascade Pier extension and refurbishment project. Representatives from Waterway Constructions have been on Norfolk Island to identify potential storage sites for their equipment and discuss supply chain arrangements.

In addition, a range of detailed technical work is being undertaken to ensure the Cascade Pier project is delivered safely and on-time. This includes air-freighting of aggregate back to Sydney in order for a concrete technologist to optimise the concrete mix design for the project.

Shipping of materials and construction equipment is already in transit and will start arriving on Norfolk Island in mid June 2016.

Site sheds will start being erected near the old boiler in mid to late June 2016.

Cascade Pier will be closed to the public from Saturday 16 July 2016 to allow strengthening and upgrading works to commence. Cascade Pier will remain closed until the upgrade to the pier is completed in late 2017.

During the construction period, Cascade Pier will be available for several weeks in the winter and spring months for lighterage operations. Cascade Pier will also be available for all scheduled cruise ships which are able to use zodiac type vessels for passenger transfer.

Commercial and charted fishing boat access to Cascade Pier during the construction phase is an important issue. Waterway Constructions has written to commercial and chartered fishing boat operators about access arrangements during this time. In addition, it is critical that commercial and fishing boat operators comply with the boat launching guidelines developed by Waterway Constructions to ensure everyone's health and safety is protected.

Kingston Pier will remain open throughout the construction period for the general public and all boat users.

Updates on the work at Cascade Pier will be published through the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website, and in future newsletters.

Did you know?

The Australian Government Information Centre is being repurposed.

The Australian Government Information Centre opened its doors at Burnt Pine in June 2015 and welcomed the Norfolk Island community. With the lovely Lorraine Macari ensuring the smooth day-to-day management of this “one stop shop” for government services, the Information Centre has been an invaluable resource for the community.

The Information Centre has provided a place for the community to research government information using the free online tools and for visiting agency representatives to meet and talk to people about their individual circumstances. There is no doubt that the Information Centre has been a vital source of information for the Norfolk Island community throughout the first stage of the reform implementation.

On 30 June 2016 the Australian Government Information Centre will cease to operate as a community drop-in centre, instead it will become the primary office space for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. Other government agencies such as Department of Human Services, Department of Social Services and Department of Employment have now engaged their own agents to deliver services on Island. Each individual agent/agency will advertise their contact details and physical location in the next few weeks.

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development's Norfolk Island Reform Mail box will no longer be in operation from 1 July 2016 and all enquiries received until then will be forwarded on to the relevant government agency for a response.

From 1 July 2016, each government agency will be responsible for their own community engagement through either their local agent or online presence, and we encourage individuals and business to go directly to the agency responsible. The Department's Norfolk Island website will continue to provide links to all agencies websites to assist with redirection, and a comprehensive list of agencies contact details including websites, mailboxes and freecall numbers will be published in next month's newsletter.

The Information Centre phone number will continue to be available until the end of July 2016.

Domestic travel between Norfolk Island and Mainland Australia

What identity documentation do I need to travel to Norfolk Island?

From 1 July 2016, travel to Norfolk Island from mainland Australia will be classed as domestic travel however; a valid passport continues to be the preferred method of identification.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection advises:

  • Anyone travelling between Norfolk Island and mainland Australia will be required to identify themselves.
  • A valid passport is the preferred means of documentation; however, photographic identification may be acceptable for Australian Citizens.
  • Anyone travelling without a valid passport will experience delays in passenger processing.
  • Travelling without a passport will affect passengers' ability to be immigration cleared, if in the unlikely event the flight is diverted to another country.

What if I don't have a passport?

If you don't have a passport, other forms of photographic identification such as a valid driver's licence, valid Norfolk Island Document of Identity* or Student ID Card should be acceptable.

*NB: The issuing of a Document of Identity by the Office of the Administrator will cease from 30 June 2016. A current Document of Identity will continue to be an acceptable form of identification until it expires.

What about children travelling without identification?

Children may travel accompanied by an adult who has appropriate identification. Unaccompanied children will experience delays in processing until an Australian Border Force officer is satisfied as to their identity.

Air New Zealand flights depart and arrive via international terminals, do international movement conditions apply?

Yes, your travel experience will be similar to an international traveller. You will be required to complete an incoming passenger card; you and your luggage will be screened and could be inspected by Australian Border Force and Biosecurity Officers.

From 1 July 2016, the Biosecurity Act 2015 will apply to movements onto Norfolk Island, and biosecurity import conditions will apply to all goods arriving onto Norfolk Island.

You must declare certain food, plant material (including wooden articles) and animal products on your incoming passenger card.

If you have items you don't wish to declare, you can dispose of them in bins provided. You will not be penalised if all items are declared, even if they are not allowed onto Norfolk Island. If you are not sure what you can take, ask a Biosecurity Officer.

Do I need travel Insurance to cover medical emergencies or medical evacuation from Norfolk Island?

From 1 July 2016, medical treatment on Norfolk Island will be covered by Medicare, as it is on mainland Australia. Emergency medical treatment will be covered by Medicare or your private health insurer.

If you need to be medically evacuated from the Island, you will be transferred from Norfolk Island's Health facility to the closest, appropriate mainland hospital. The cost of the medivac will be covered by the Australian Government.

Can I purchase/replace my medicines on Norfolk Island?

Yes, Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will be introduced on Norfolk Island on 1 July 2016, and the cost of medicines will be comparable to mainland Australia.

Can I shop duty free on Norfolk Island?

Yes, similar to other Australian external territories, there is no limit on the amount of duty free goods you can buy on Norfolk Island. However, when returning to mainland Australia standard duty free concessions will apply. You will need to produce documentation, such as a valid passport to be eligible to purchase duty free goods.

Federal Election Day is Saturday 2 July 2016

The Australian federal election is to be held on Saturday, 2 July 2016. At a federal election, you are voting to elect people to represent you in the two houses of the Australian Parliament: the House of Representatives and the Senate.

If you enrolled before 6 May 2016 your name will be on the list of voters for the Division that you are currently enrolled in. If you changed your enrolled address between 6 May 2016 and the close of rolls at 8pm (AEST) on Monday 23 May 2016, your enrolment will be in the Division of Canberra.

When you vote, you will receive two ballot papers: a green one to vote for a representative of your electoral Division in the House of Representatives, and a white one to vote for a representative of your state or territory in the Senate. Instructions on how to vote are printed on the ballot papers. If you make a mistake or you are unsure what to do just ask a polling official for help.

Voting rules for the Senate have changed this federal election. You'll have new ways to decide your preferences on your white Senate ballot paper:

  • If you choose to vote above the line you now need to number at least six boxes, from 1 to 6, for the parties or groups in the order of your choice, or
  • If you choose to vote below the line you now need to number at least 12 boxes, from 1 to 12, for individual candidates in the order of your choice.

You will be able to vote on Norfolk Island in the federal election in the following ways:

Pre-poll (early voting) will be available from Thursday 30 June to Friday 1 July 2016 (for those unable to vote on 2 July 2016).

Election Day (2 July 2016) polling for the Division of Canberra and interstate voting. Voting locations will be confirmed in coming weeks.

Remember that once you are enrolled you must vote. Polling places open at 8am and close at 6pm sharp.

For more information visit www.aec.gov.au, or call +61 2 6160

New Family Support Services Being Introduced to Norfolk Island after 1 July 2016

From July, Norfolk Islanders will have access to family support services aimed at building strong families and communities.

Family and Relationship Services can help people who are having difficulties in their relationships, provide counselling by helping children to have healthy relationships with their parents and other family members and provide education about relationship issues. All families can access these services, those that are together, separated or blended as well as others such as grandparents and other kin who are caring for family members.

If you have children or teenagers, you may also be able to access the new Children and Parenting Support service. Children and Parenting Support services work with families to build parenting skills and provide tools and activities to make sure children get the best start in life. Children and Parenting Support services provide resources and guidance so parents and carers can have the skills and knowledge needed to nurture their children so they grow into strong, resilient adults.

Children and Parenting Support services that operate throughout Australia offer a tailored mix of playgroups, home visiting services for families, parenting skills courses, school-readiness activities and peer support programmes.

These services are not only for difficult times, but they are able to work with families early on before any specific challenges arise. This means they help prevent or immediately address challenges that sometimes do occur in families.

Norfolk Islanders will also have access to Emergency Relief which helps people in financial crisis, including through vouchers for food, transport or medicine, help with paying outstanding accounts, providing household goods, food parcels, or clothing, or help with budgeting.

The timing of the rollout out, how the services will be delivered and further information on each service will provided before the end of June.

In the meanwhile, you can find general information about these services on the DSS Website.

You may have heard…

You may have heard about changes coming to your postal services.

From 1 July 2016, Australia Post will be providing services on Norfolk Island; until then, they are busy working behind the scenes to ensure you experience a seamless transition.

Australia Post are pleased to announce that they have found a new home for your Post Office—P&R Groceries—with your local grocers Dean “Puff” Graham and Raewyn Baker becoming Norfolk Island's newest post office managers.

Owning and operating their successful supermarket for over six years, Australia Post couldn't be happier to have such knowledgeable and passionate locals take on this new responsibility.

Puff and Raewyn are incredibly excited about the new services coming to Norfolk Island, and will be working hard over coming weeks with training and refurbishments to relocate Post Office Boxes and install Australia Post systems into the shop.

From 1 July 2016, Australia Post will be introducing a host of convenient services including a new range of domestic and international letter and parcel products, passport services and more.

Australia Post will continue to update its service offering to best suit customers and welcome your feedback and suggestions to best serve your needs.

If you would like to get in touch, ask a question or give feedback, please email NorfolkIsland@auspost.com.au

Australian Government agency visits to Norfolk Island

Who? When? How they can help you?
June/July 2016
Department of Veterans Affairs 6 to 13 June Staff will be available to assist entitled veterans and war widows with any aspects of concern prior to 1 July 2016.
Australian Taxation Office 31 May to 4 June Assist with registrations (TFN,ABN,PAYGW)
Australian Taxation Office 20 June to 24 June If you have more than one job and earn over $18,200 they can help you to apply for a withholding variation to ensure you do not have more tax withheld from your salary or wages than you need to.
Department of Human Services Early May to 30 June Staff will be available to help you lodge an early payment claim or child support assessment.
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources June
Exact date to be confirmed
Community engagement regarding the Biosecurity Act 2015 and import conditions for goods

Please note this schedule contains the visits known to date as at 27 May 2016, and is subject to change. Visits might be added as agencies confirm arrangements and dates below might change. This schedule will be updated regularly.

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Last Updated: 1 December, 2016