Election 2016: Norfolk Island moves away from Labor

Election 2016: Norfolk Island moves away from Labor

While the electorate of Canberra went a deeper shade of red this election, the results from the division's most isolated community tell a different story.

Sixteen per cent of the 393 votes counted on the island were informal, a rate far higher than the 2.89 per cent electorate-wide informal count for the seat.

Enrolling to vote in federal elections became compulsory on Norfolk Island this year.

Enrolling to vote in federal elections became compulsory on Norfolk Island this year.Credit:Wade Laube

Incumbent Gai Brodtmann recorded a 12 per cent swing against her in the island's sole election day polling centre, while Greens candidate Patricia Cahill benefited most from the turn from Labor.

She picked up 25 per cent of the vote, up from 8 per cent at the 2013 poll.


While boosting her party's vote, Liberal candidate Jessica Adelan-Langford picked up only a 0.87 per cent swing.

Ten people voted for Bullet Train for Australia.

The election is the first since the federal government made enrolling to vote in Commonwealth elections compulsory and replaced the island's parliament with a regional council and for services to be provided by NSW.

Residents must also pay income tax, but have been granted access to Medicare and other federal services as part of the change, which was passed by the federal government last year.

The status change has proven controversial on Norfolk, where most of the newly elected council is in favour of self-government and last year's referendum asking if the residents should have a say in the island's political status receiving an overwhelming "yes" majority.

After the referendum, a self-determination group called Norfolk Island People For Democracy was formed, pushing for Norfolk to be recognised by the United Nations as a non-self-governing territory.

"We are campaigning for Australia to inscribe Norfolk Island and fulfil its international obligation under article 73E of the United Nations Charter XI to allow the Norfolk Island people an act of self-determination," the group says on its website.

Enrolled Australian citizens on the island had already been registered in the seat of Canberra, but the voter turnout on Norfolk increased substantially after the compulsory voting requirement.

Ms Brodtmann supported the changes, arguing before the reform came through that the island was "simply not viable" in its former state.

"Imagine being out of work in an economy doing it tough, with no access to Newstart payments or jobseeker support," she said at the time.

"There is no point in having self-government for self-government's sake. It is now clear to me that the current governance arrangements have met only the most basic social and economic needs of Norfolk residents."

Stephen Jeffery is a producer at The Canberra Times

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