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On 8 May 2015, the Norfolk Island People voted overwhelmingly in support of their “right to freely determine their political status, their economic, social and cultural development”.

Australia chose to ignore the outcome of the legally constituted referendum and to disregard the rights of the Norfolk Island People.  Consequently in June 2015, the Legislative Assembly of Norfolk Island was abolished and the limited self-governance model afforded the Norfolk Island People by the Commonwealth of Australia in 1979 was removed.

Below are some key documents relating to our struggle for Self-Determination.




In 2015 the Norfolk Island Government held a public referendum with the following Yes / No question:


Should the people of Norfolk Island have the right to freely determine their political status, their economic, social and cultural development and be consulted at referendum or plebiscite on the future model of governance for Norfolk Island before such changes are acted on by the Australian Parliament? Yes or No

The Norfolk Island Government Gazette (No. 24 - May 2015) advised the result of the referendum:

Yes - 624

No - 266

Informal votes - 22

In April 2015 Minister Robin Adams MLA on behalf of the Norfolk Island Government, made a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Petitions on the matter of the Petition on Norfolk Island Governance. 

In May 2015, Speaker of the Norfolk Island Parliament sent a remonstrance to the Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives seeking affirmation from the Australian Parliament  concerning the rights of the people of Norfolk Island to self-government.

The abolition of the Norfolk Island Parliament.

In 2015, the Australian Parliament passed the Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Act 2015 No.59, 2015. An Act to amend the Norfolk Island Act 1979 and effectively removed the right of self-determination for the people of Norfolk Island.

NIPD - UN Petition-1.png

NIPD sought legal advice on the following questions –

  • Is Norfolk Island a Non-Self-Governing territory within the meaning of Article 73 of the Charter of the United Nations?


  • Is United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514 of 14 December 1960 applicable to Norfolk Island having regard to the Principles expressed in Resolution 1541?


  • What, if any, mechanisms are available to ‘inscribe’ the Island under Article 73(e) of the Charter?

A Joint Opinion advising on these questions was provided to NIPD from Dr Christopher Ward SC (St. James Hall Chambers, Sydney) and Professor Vaughan Lowe QC (Essex Court Chambers, London) on “The Matter of the Status of Norfolk Island as a Non-Self-Governing Territory”.


Dr Chris Ward SC is a recognised expert in the field of international law (public and private) and is a Senior Counsel for the State of New South Wales (2015).

Professor Vaughan Lowe QC is Emeritus Chichele Professor of Public International Law at Oxford University and a Fellow of All Souls College.



Norfolk Islanders are the first people to live continuously as the first native inhabitants; a "whole people" on Norfolk Island, South Pacific. Norfolk Island is our homeland. We love and hold sacred our island. We identify ourselves by our island and as a people we have been shaped by our island.

Norfolk Island is first and foremost the the homeland of the Norfolk Islanders who are a distinct people. Our Ancestry is well documented and globally understood: our forebears infamous HMS Bounty Mutineers and Polynesian mothers Mauatua, Teio,
Teraura, Wahineatua and Toofaiti .

Professor Peter Mühlhäusler M.A (Oxon), M.Phil, Ph.D, F.A.S.A, compiled a report on the Distinctiveness of Norfolk Island Ethnicity, Culture and the Norfolk Language, and found “the Norfolk Island People are distinct ethnically and or culturally from the country administering it"

In June 2018, Dr Carlyle Corbin, International Advisor on Governance, has conducted a Self-Governance Assessment to examine the current governance arrangements of Norfolk Island and its level of compliance with the requirements of the full measure of self-government on the basis of recognised international standards.

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