This is the first Annual Report for the new Regional Council after over 30 years of a limited form of self-government. It has been a big year with the task to set up a Local Government structure in line with the applied law Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) (NI).
Further, the Norfolk Island Annual Report must comply to two pieces of relevant legislation, the requirements under the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW)(NI) and the Annual Reports Act 2004 (NI).
The year commenced with the election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor and the adoption of key Governance Policies such as the Code of Meeting Practice, Code of Conduct, Payment of Expenses and facilities for Councillors, Councillor Access to Information and Interaction with Staff, Oversight of the General Manager by the Mayor and the Media Policy. Concurrently Council worked on the development of the Community Strategic Plan, including public consultation and a public meeting held in August 2016.
The key task for the Council was to develop the Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework as per the Ordinances by the Commonwealth which had strict deadlines which the Council met for all documents:
- Community Strategic Plan – by 1 October 2016
- Operational Plan, budget and rating structure - by 1 October 2016
- Delivery Program (4-year plan for the term of Council) - by 1 January 2017
- Resourcing Strategy - (Long term Financial Plan, Workforce Management Plan and Asset Management Plans) - by 1 January 2017.
The largest operational project for this year was the setting up and implementation of Civica (an integrated business software system) which commenced with intensive training and data input by several staff teams with the roll out of the rating module first followed by the finance module.
Five Advisory Committees were adopted and established in the first half of the year: Waste Management, Rock Feed Source, Public Reserves, Tourism, and Heritage and Culture. This included the development of guidelines and meeting schedules of all Committee meetings.
The Equal Employment Management Strategy was adopted and this document is a policy document that complements the Workforce Management Plan.
The Audit Committee was established in November and met three (3) times with the new External Auditor attending one (1) of these meetings in person.
Extensive Tourism Destination Marketing took place with the launch of the new Destination Marketing campaign, including the Ray Martin videos, with over 100 stakeholders attending. Statistics indicated increased visitation to the Island partly as a result of Destination Marketing with just under 30,000 visitors in 2016-2017.
The Culture and Heritage Strategy was developed by the Heritage and Culture Advisory Committee, placed on public exhibition and adopted by Council.
The Queen Elizabeth Avenue/Taylors Road footpath and associated roadworks were completed as well as unplanned drainage work.
A main storm-water drain was constructed at the corner of Ferny Lane and New Farm Road and there is no longer pooling of water at that intersection.
The intense lobbying for Air New Zealand to reinstate flights to Auckland and reinstate Tuesday flights to Brisbane in July and August, and to make the Sunday flight to Sydney all year around, resulted in three (3) flights back in May, two (2) in June, and two (2) in August, and Norfolk Island Airlines commencing the route to Auckland with the Minister enabling a reduction in the security deposit from $500,000 to $200,000.
Urgent attention was provided to the shortage in rock on the Island resulting in Council adopting the location of Headstone as the site for the next public quarry.
Expressions of Interests (EOIs) were advertised for a number of services: the Argentine Ant Eradication, Lighterage Operations, Lease of Tanalith Plant and Fuel Supply and Distribution. However, at the end of June only one service was outsourced: Fuel Supply and Distribution.
In May, Local Government Engineering Services was engaged to provide a detailed Asset Management Plan for roads and a comprehensive capital works schedule spanning 10 years. In addition, design specifications for various difficult intersections and standards for culverts and drainage will be provided.
In addition to some of the Local Government functions highlighted above, Council staff have consistently delivered the State Type Services contracted by the Commonwealth. The services included Education, Policing, Courts and Legal Services, Tribunals/Boards, Child Welfare, Registry, Licencing and Regulatory Enforcement, Emergency Services, Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area (KAVHA) - Landscape and garden maintenance, Office of the Administrator, Gaming, Pest and Noxious Weed Control, Workers Compensation, Ports Management, Record Keeping, Spatial Policy and Planning, ICT Support, Pensioner Rates Rebates.
I would like to thank the Mayor especially, the Councillors and all staff for their support and dedication, and the community for their input during the first year of the Norfolk Island Regional Council. What a journey!