SYDNEY, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Norfolk Island is in a state of chaos after protestors occupy the grounds of its former legislative assembly, seeking the resignation of the Australian administrator and re-instatement of autonomy.
The Australian government is set to resume control of Norfolk Island -- over 1670 kilometers northeast of Sydney -- on July 1, ending 36 years of self-administration after closing down its parliament last year.
The small volcanic island was mapped by captain James Cook on HMS Bounty in 1774, and was occupied just 40 days after British settlement in Sydney in 1788.
On the 227th anniversary of the mutiny on the HMS Bounty, many pro-democracy islanders are occupying the former legislative assembly grounds after presenting a letter of no-confidence to the island's administrator, seeking his voluntary removal and re-instatement of self rule.
The democratic movement claimed in recolonizing the island. The Australian government misrepresented the community's views while intentionally obscuring the pathway that was open to Norfolk Island for self-determination.
"They've done that specifically, from what we can gather, to maintain a stranglehold on the exclusive economic zone and the strategic positioning of the island," former Chief Minister for Norfolk Island, Andre Nobbs, told Xinhua on Friday.
Nobbs noted that one-third of the island's public service have lost their jobs since Australia's decision.
Australian Minister for Major Projects, Territories and Local Governments, Paul Fletcher, said the island had been an integral part of Australia since its inception as a territory in 1914, a position that has been affirmed by the High Court.
"The Australian government established what was effectively an experimental form of self-government on Norfolk Island in 1979. The result of this experiment is clear -- it has not worked very well," Fletcher's spokesman said in a statement.
"The Australian government is ultimately responsible for the governance of Norfolk Island -- as it has been for more than a century -- and for the welfare of all Australians including those that comprise the majority of the Norfolk Island community."
Authorities say the island is in unsustainable financial strife, owing approximately 11 million Australian dollars and has been unable to pay for basic services.
Norfolk Island raised money through a local sales tax, however, revenue has suffered a downturn from a drop in tourism.
Nobbs claimed the financial position was pushed by the Australian government who have tied the community's hands behind their back while having"scooped up" all the revenue from the island's exclusive economic zone.
"When (Australia) rob everything from us and force us to be a cash economy that can't run deficit budgets, while (Australia) take all the revenue... of course it's going to be hard," Nobbs said.
"But we did survive 30-years-plus on surplus budgets."
The Norfolk Islanders have taken their fight to the United Nations in a last-ditch effort to maintain their autonomous status, delivering a petition to seek admission onto the body's decolonisation committee of 24 in New York earlier this week.
Norfolk Islanders had been enthusiastic in self-determination in free association with Australia, however the "dishonourable actions" of Australian officials may push the populace to seek free association with New Zealand.
"There should have been a positive, collaborative, big-brother relationship with Australia... it's been instead quite an oppressive relationship that's now going to some ways backfire on Australia," Nobbs said.
"They're really going to have to work hard to show that they can be honourable."