Controversial Australian politician, Pauline Hanson, has weighed into the push to get the Australian Government to fund an extension of the Hawaiki Cable to Norfolk Island.
As Computerworld reported on 14 October, at a meeting in late September, the Norfolk Island Regional Council passed a motion calling on the general manager as a matter of urgency to lobby Australia’s minister for regional communications, Fiona Nash in support of the project.
Also, Ben Howard, an Australian IT professional with a long family connection to Norfolk Island, wrote to the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull to lobby for an extension of the cable to the island.
Hanson, One Nation party Senator for Queensland — who has just been appointed to the Senate committee overseeing the National Broadband Network project — has written to communications minister Mitch Fifield following a visit to the Island.
She says: “Australia and New Zealand are soon to be linked through a new undersea cable installed and operated by Hawaiki Submarine Cable, this cable passes within 100 kilometres of Norfolk Island and significant enquiry and effort has been put into evaluating this fibre optic connection for the island to future-proof the island communications and technology needs.
“The undersea cable engineering and manufacture process has begun, however there still exists a very small window of opportunity for Norfolk Island to connect if the Australian Government is able to assist either financially or through an underwriting agreement, such as the precedent set by the Norfolk Island/Air New Zealand underwriting agreement, which secures air travel to and from the island.”
In support of her case she includes a letter from one Ken McDondald who describes himself as “ an Australian engineering consultant [who has] run an engineering systems company in Australia with a worldwide customer base … has a home and office on Norfolk Island and [has] been associated with the Island for more than 20 years.”
In the letter he says: “I cannot stress how importantly I view a connection to a fibre optic cable as being essential for Norfolk Island in the medium to long term. There is an important opportunity now to connect to the new Hawaiki cable and in my view all possible efforts should be explored with a view to ensuring that this connection can be made.”
Hanson is reviled by many Australians for her views on immigration, which have been condemned as racist. She once famously warned that Australia was in danger of being “swamped by Asians” and now makes the same claims about Muslims. After a brief stint in the lower house 20 years ago, she secured an upper house seat in the last election in July.