An Uneasy Relationship: Norfolk Island and the Commonwealth by Maev O'Collins

By Maev O'Collins

The location of Norfolk Island, as a territory of the Commonwealth of Australia, is without doubt one of the ancient anomalies in governance, which has endured given that 1914. It displays the direct ancient linkages among the British Crown and people Norfolk Islanders who have been descendants of Pitcairn Islanders of Mutiny at the Bounty repute. but, as soon as Federation used to be within the wind, the British executive, opposed to the expressed needs of the Norfolk Island group, sought to divest itself of all accountability for Norfolk Island. there's a interestingly ‘Yes Minister’ caliber in regards to the negotiations which result in the ultimate take-over through Australia, and the appointment of the 1st Commonwealth Administrator of Norfolk Island. The direct involvement of Atlee Hunt, then Secretary of the dept of exterior Affairs, ultimately ensured the appointment of Michael Vincent Murphy. to be able to accomplish that finish, Hunt needed to fend off different candidates who have been busy ingratiating themselves with the Minister for exterior Affairs Patrick McMahon Glynn and the then major Minister Joseph prepare dinner. this is often primarily a research of the relationships among governors, politicians, public servants and group leaders through the years which the take-over of Norfolk Island, and of the fight of 1 Norfolk Islander, Charles Chase Ray Nobbs, opposed to Australian administrative authority.

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The writer pointed out that critics had overlooked the knowledge and experience Hunt had gained from work in the New South Wales public service, and later as a barrister. Although he had been described in the Press ‘as a trifle domineering, a good deal dogmatic and greatly tenacious of purpose’, the report noted that these were important formative years in his life as well as that of the Commonwealth: With the advent of Federation, Mr. Hunt became Secretary for External affairs, — than which there can be no more interesting position in the Public Service of Australia: He is the channel of communication between the Prime Minister and subordinate Departments, between the Federal Government and the Imperial Cabinet, between the Federal Government and State Ministers, between the Federal Government and foreign nations.

In March 1914, Glynn wrote that he was not feeling the best but would come over to Melbourne if necessary. Hunt immediately responded:10 I am sorry to find from your letter that you are not so well as we would like you to be. I am very glad you have decided to remain over in Adelaide this week as the rest and the freedom from train journey will, I hope set you right. I am sure that everlasting travelling 1000 miles a week continually must tell on your nervous system. Please do not think of coming across.

8 Denison was a complex, multi-faceted personality. Contemporary and historical evaluations suggest that he was concerned at the treatment of Aborigines and was ready to support his wife in her philanthropic endeavours. However, a contrasting image is that he was arrogant and over-confident. He initially supported John Price but finally agreed that the penal colony on Norfolk Island should be abandoned. See C. H. Currey, entry for Sir William Thomas Denison, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4:46–53, 1972, and Alison Alexander, Governors Ladies: the Wives and Mistresses of Van Dieman’s Land, Sandy Bay, Tasmanian Historical Research Association, 1987:128–146.

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