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Improving the application of Norfolk Island legislation

Proposed changes to prohibit ownership of firearm silencers, increase the fee unit and improve the application of the child welfare, domestic violence and a small number of other laws on Norfolk Island will be considered by the Australian Government in the coming weeks as a part of ongoing reforms and updates to Norfolk Island legislation.

A measure is proposed which would prohibit ownership of firearm silencers on Norfolk Island without a permit. This proposal is in line with a commitment by the former Norfolk Island Government and consultation was undertaken at that time.

The changes also propose an increase in the fee unit from $25.05 to $28.40. The fee unit sets prices for a range of Norfolk Island Regional Council services. This measure was proposed by the Norfolk Island Regional Council in its draft operational plan as a prudent step intended to keep pace with retail price index movements. It is the first update to the fee since 2010.

Proposed amendments to the Child Welfare Act 2009 (NI) include seeking to increase reporting responsibilities for the Child Welfare Officer (CWO) on Norfolk Island. If agreed by the Government, a requirement for the CWO to consider each report about a child or young person he or she receives and document any action taken in response will be formalised, as well as allowing for the CWO to delegate his or her responsibilities to relevant experts. The length of time the CWO or a police officer can take parental responsibility for a child or young person without a court order would also be extended from two working days to three. This would align this period with the equivalent period under NSW legislation.

Amendments to the Domestic Violence Act 1995 (NI) would update the Act to make sure it covers offences under the Criminal Code 2007 (NI).

Minister Nash has approved a consultation framework as part of her commitment to consulting with the Norfolk Island community on proposed legislative changes. Today I am releasing the consultation framework, included as an attachment to this media release.

Future legislative changes will undergo consultation in line with this framework. Legislative changes will be assessed for the effect they may have on the community and will follow the corresponding consultation mechanism. The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development will determine the legislative effect and will seek advice from technical experts as relevant during the assessment.  

The changes I have advised today have either been the subject of past consultation or have been determined under the criteria of the framework to have minimal or no legislative effect on the Norfolk Island community. As outlined in the framework, upcoming changes determined to have broad or limited effect will be subject to heightened levels of consultation.

I will advise the community when the Ordinance has been made after which it will be available on the Federal Legislation Register at www.legislation.gov.au

Eric Hutchinson
09 May 2017