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Descendants of HMS Bounty Mutineers Have Problems with Authority, Too

Tiny Norfolk Island’s infrastructure is crumbling, but does that mean nearby Australia should take over?

On a small rock 900 miles off the coast of Australia, a hubbub is brewing about sovereignty and the right of unique peoples to self-governance. The residents of Norfolk Island, about 2,000 people living on a three-by-five mile chunk of earth, have enjoyed self-rule since 1979, when they argued that their unique history and culture entitled them to freedom from the Australian government. But in recent weeks, Norfolk Islanders learned that members of the sitting Australian government have decided to peel back the island’s autonomy, introducing legislation that would phase out the local legislative assembly and loop residents into federal taxation and welfare schemes, effectively ending the ability of island locals to manage their own economy.

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