Royal commission into matters relating to norfolk island



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Chapter 1



ELIZABETH THE SECOND, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth:

TO -

The Honourable Sir John Angus Nimmo, C.B.E., O.St.J.


WE DO BY these Our Letters Patent issued in Our name by Our Administrator on the advice of the Executive Council and pursuant to the Constitution of Australia, the Royal Commissions Act 1902—1973, the Royal Commissions Ordinance l9281964 in force under section 15 of the Norfolk Island Act 1957—1973 and other enabling powers appoint you to be a Commissioner to make inquiry into and to report and make recommendations on:

  1. The future status of Norfolk Island and its constitutional relationship to Australia;


  1. The most appropriate form of administration for Norfolk Island if its constitutional position were changed.

The inquiry and recommendations are to extend to and take into account;

    1. The interests of Norfolk Island residents;

    2. The historical rights of the descendants of the Pitcairn settlers, arising from their settlement in 1856;

    3. Norfolk Island’s legal position as a Territory of Australia;

    4. The present and probable development of the economy of Norfolk Island;

    5. Whether social security, health, educational, compensation and other benefits should be provided at levels similar to those which other Australian citizens enjoy;
    6. The capacity and willingness of the Island to pay through taxation or other imposts for the provision of those benefits;

    7. The extent to which Norfolk Island has been and is now being used to provide a base for activities (e.g. income tax, gift duty and death duty avoidance or evasion) which are harmful to the interests of Australia or of other countries;

    8. Conditions for permanent entry into the Island community;

    9. The need for adequate communications between the Island and Australia, and the rest of the world; and

    10. The need for adequate law enforcement and judicial machinery.

AND WE require you as expeditiously as possible to make your inquiries and to report the results of your inquiries and your recommendations to our Governor-General of Australia.

WITNESS His Excellency Sir Arthur Roden Cutler, upon whom has been conferred the decoration of the Victoria Cross, Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Knight of the Most venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, Administrator of the Government of Australia, this fifteenth day of May 1975.



By His Excellency’s Command,


Special Minister of State


Minister for the Capital Territory

ENTERED ON RECORD by me, in the Register of Patents No. 10, Page 27, this sixteenth day of May one thousand nine hundred and seventy-five.

Secretary to the Executive Council

Chapter 2

1.In relation to the first principal matter (Chapter l7)

‘The future status of Norfolk Island and its constitutional relationship to Australia’

  1. That the Commonwealth Government decide as soon as practicable and announce its decision on whether it proposes to abandon Norfolk Island completely or to continue to accept responsibility for maintaining it as a viable community.

  2. That if the Commonwealth Government decides not to abandon Norfolk Island completely then for at least five years the status of the Island and its constitutional relationship to Australia remain that of a Territory of the Commonwealth of Australia.

2.In relation to the second principal matter (Chapter 17)

‘The most appropriate form of administration for Norfolk Island if its constitutional position were changed’

  1. That residents of Norfolk Island be included in the elector­ate of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory for the purpose of giving them representation in the Commonwealth Parliament.

  2. That the present Norfolk Island Council be abolished and replaced by an incorporated body to be known as the Norfolk Island Territory Assembly.

    1. That the Assembly consist of nine elected members holding office for three years.

    2. That a President and Deputy President be elected by the Assembly from among its members.

    3. That each Assembly member exercise a deliberative vote and that the President or Deputy President exercise a casting vote when necessary.

    4. That a quorum for a meeting of the Assembly be five members.

    5. That the Assembly’s Chief Executive Officer be its Secretary and head of the Assembly’s staff and be appointed by the Assembly from outside its members.

    6. That members of the Assembly be paid such remuneration for their services as the Assembly determines.
  3. That there be no wards for electoral purposes in the Island and that no seats be reserved on the Assembly for any particular group of the Island residents based on blood ties or country oforigin or otherwise.

  4. That voting be compulsory and by secret ballot.

  5. That legislative and executive powers be granted to the Assembly in respect of the following matters:

roads, footpaths and bridges;


sewerage and sanitation;

disposal of garbage and trade waste;

recreation areas;

pasturage on commons;



pests and noxious weeds;



electricity supply;

water supply;


places of public entertainment;

promotion of tourism;

omnibuses and taxis;

sale and distribution of foodstuffs and beverages;

repair or demolition of dangerous buildings;

new buildings and the alteration of buildings;

advertising hoardings;

fires and the prevention of fires;

road traffic;

street lighting;

prevention and suppression of nuisances;

trading hours;

street stalls;

raising revenue for the assembly’s budget;

coastlines, foreshores, wharves and jetties;


slaughtering of stock;

domestic animals and birds;

storage of petroleum products;


museums, memorials and libraries;

motor vehicles and road traffic;

forestry and related activities;

radio and television;

noxious trades;

markets and weighbridges;

carters and hawkers


maintenance of rolls;

telephone services;

postal services;

customs services;

philatelic activities;

immigration, with a right of appeal to the minister by any person aggrieved;

registrations (births, deaths, marriages, companies, motor vehicles, dogs, etc.), which are at present handled by the administration;

internal audit;

the undertaking of business activities and contracts with respect to any of the matters specified above.

  1. That for the Purpose of raising moneys for its budget the Assembly take over those operations at present yielding revenue to the Administration other than those relating to hospital and medical services.

  2. That the Assembly not be given the power to borrow money but be given the right to apply to the Commonwealth Grants Commission for financial assistance.

  3. That the Administrator possesses no power of veto over the Assembly’s legislative and executive responsibilities nor hold any membership or office of the Assembly.

  4. That the Commonwealth continue to exercise all governmental powers not shown above as being specifically conferred upon the Assembly and, in particular, retain all powers over all land in the Island.

  5. That the exercise of the legislative and executive powers of the Assembly be allied with power in the Assembly to advise the Administrator on any matter relating to Norfolk Island over which the Commonwealth Government has power.

  6. That at all times the Assembly and the Administration maintain close liaison and keep each other thoroughly informed of each other’s work.

  7. That the performance of the Assembly be reviewed by the Commonwealth after five years and consideration be then given to the question of increasing the powers of the Assembly.

  8. That the Commonwealth Government in the light of this Report lay down a clear set of policies to be followed in the administration of Norfolk Island particularly in respect of the following:

    1. land development and ownership

    2. the airport

    3. taxation

    4. health services

    5. law

    6. social security

    7. education
    8. transport to and from the mainland

    9. government buildings and historical sites

    10. tourism generally

  9. That the Commonwealth at its own expense provide and maintain an Administrator and his staff in the Island to represent the Government and conduct the business of the Commonwealth in the Island.

  10. That the division of the present Administration’s existing by the Secretary of the Department of Administrative Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Assembly.

  11. That Commonwealth assets in the Island be divided as outlined in this Report.

  12. That the Commonwealth consult the Assembly on all matters which hold particular relevance to Norfolk Island and where practicable give the Island opportunity of sending representatives to meetings of international bodies whose deliberations may specifically affect the Island.

  13. That when the supply of legal draftsmen permits, a particular draftsman in the Legislative Drafting Division of the Attorney— General’s Department be appointed and instructed to give priority to the drafting ofordinances relating to the Island.

  14. That the Commonwealth sight the annual estimates of the Assembly and that external auditing of the Assembly’s annual accounts be carried out by the Commonwealth Auditor—General who should deliver copies of his report to the Secretary of the Department of Administrative Services, the President of the Assembly and the Administrator.

  15. That Australian manufactures destined for sale in Norfolk Island continue to be exempt from sales tax.

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