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Norfolk Island as Region: A Pacific Puzzle

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Commonwealth-enforced changes to the constitutional status of Norfolk Island through 2014–2016 have removed the island's autonomous identity as a self-governing Australian territory. Its conversion to what is effectively a part of New South Wales, with the main instrument of governance titled ‘regional council’, is said to be based on a NSW local government model. However, it is difficult to view Norfolk Island as a region, and difficult also to trace the thinking that bestowed the form of the regional council on its governance. This article briefly summarizes the Norfolk changes. It then considers how the concept of the regional council has been used in NSW, and moves on to Queensland where the concept is better defined. It notes particularly how it has been applied in the case of the Torres Strait Islands, and asks whether that application might have relevance for Norfolk. It concludes with speculation about what might be a better approach in designing a system of governance suitable for Norfolk conditions.




Wettenhall, R. (2018). Norfolk Island as Region: A Pacific Puzzle. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 77(1), 120–127.

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