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RNZ Pacific

A stand-off was averted on Norfolk Island today when a couple occupying a historic house chose to leave rather than face criminal charges.

The couple had been occupying one of the old officers’ houses in the Kingston World Heritage Site and the Canberra administrator had had police flown in from the mainland to carry out an eviction.

But one islander speaking for the couple, Mary Christian-Bailey, said they may have lost the battle but they intend to win the war.

She was referring to plans to now bring legal action to prove that it is Norfolk Islanders who control the site, not the Commonwealth of Australia.

“This now frees them to take the case to court to prove that it is not Commonwealth land, that it is Crown land in Norfolk Island’s name and belongs to the people here. It was sad but it was the best decision to make,” she said.

Mary Christian-Bailey said relations with the police were very good with them suggesting the couple give themselves a couple of days to leave the property.

In January 2020, The Canberra Times reported that the Australian government moved more than two decades ago to quash Norfolk Islanders’ hopes for independence, pointing to the island’s strategic importance deep in Canberra’s sphere of influence in the Pacific.

“The move, revealed in cabinet documents released [in January 2020], provides insight into the final decision from 2016 to strip Norfolk of self-government, a move that has ignited the islands who are now asking the United Nations to intervene,” reported The Canberra Times.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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