Norfolk Islanders will not have the right to vote in Australian state elections, despite the island’s legislation being abolished and replaced by federal and New South Wales laws. From July, the NSW government will deliver all state-level services, such as health and education. Islanders will also fall under the federal Medicare system and be eligible for social benefits, including the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Australia’s tax and immigration systems will also apply. The island lost its right to self-govern last May when the commonwealth abolished its autonomy, and the island has been in a transition period ever since as it prepares to come under Australian laws. While islanders will have the right to vote in the federal election and will be allocated to the electorate of Canberra, the NSW Legislative Council this week passed legislation about the application of services to Norfolk Islanders. Despite this, they will not have a right to vote in state elections as part of the legislation.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge acknowledged that many islanders were still fighting for self-governance. But if their bid to the United Nations to retain autonomy did not succeed, then the people should have a right to vote at a state level just like all other Australians, he said.
“From my observation of this process, it’s very much a 21st-century recolonisation of an independent territory,” he told Guardian Australia.