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The History of Norfolk Island's Government

During the first and second occupations of Norfolk Island, the island was part of the colonies of New South Wales, and later Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania). However, in 1856, the Pitcairners having arrived on Norfolk Island, Queen Victoria ordered that it be a separate colony of the British Crown. The 1856 Order-In-Council also decreed that Her Majesty's representative should be whosoever was at the time the Governor of New South Wales.

Between 1856 and 1896 the Pitcairners continued their self-government, an element of which was equal suffrage: they were the first people ever to afford women the vote. In 1896, however, the right of self-government was removed from the islanders, due in part to their willingness to allow outsiders to join their community; this ran contrary to the aims of "The Experiment"

Between 1896 and 1979 the affairs of Norfolk Island were administered first by the Colony of New South Wales, and then after Australia's federation, by the Commonwealth of Australia. The island itself, however, was not incorporated into the Commonwealth, and has never been ceded or annexed to Australia. Constitutionally it remains today a distinct and separate colony of the British Crown, supervised by Australia, not owned by Australia.

In 1979 Australia passed the Norfolk Island Act, which provided for the framework of Norfolk Island's current political and administrative structure. It was promised at the time that within five years of the passing of the 1979 Norfolk Island Act, the government of the island would be afforded the many powers retained by Australia. 17 years later, this promise remains unfulfilled.

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