The Courier-Mail has reported the Queensland Government could take responsibility for service delivery on Norfolk Island after NSW has declined to continue doing so, and the state government is currently discussing a potential deal with the Commonwealth. This is an intriguing prospect, and one that would be worth considering, so long as Queensland taxpayers are sufficiently compensated for the risks associated with service delivery in such a remote location. The Courier-Mail reports “It is unlikely Queensland would receive an economic return from its investment”, which is probably true, and suggests to me that the state government should push the Commonwealth to pay it a premium for providing health and education services to Norfolk to compensate for the risks involved. If NSW has pulled out, the Queensland Government probably has a lot of leverage in the negotiation with the Commonwealth and can demand much more than the $192 million (over six years) NSW was getting.
Possibly I’m more open to a Norfolk Island takeover by Queensland than a hard-headed economist should be, owing to an historical family connection with Norfolk. There was a Sergeant Dennis Tunny who was involved in a notorious incident on Norfolk in 1827, an incident which involved the killing of a mutinous convict, Patrick Clynch, who had attempted to kill Commandant Captain Thomas Wright. Here’s a description of the incident in Robert Macklin’s 2013 book Dark Paradise: Norfolk Island – Isolation, Savagery, Mystery and Murder (from p. 131):
Wright sent Sergeant Dennis Tunny and two privates after him [Clynch] with instructions, ‘You know your duty, so do it!’ Amid a wild hullabaloo from the prisoners, the soldiers intercepted Clynch and brought him to earth. Then, according to the convicts, they not only shot him dead but dragged his body to the gaol, placed it on the scourger’s stage and forced the prisoners to file past as a warning.
For more tales from Norfolk’s dark history, I can highly recommend Dark Paradise.