Mutiny not on the Bounty Island


The Pear Shaped thinktank explains its new Foreign Policy...

1) Invade Australia over the abolition of the Norfolk Island Parliament

2) Solve Migrant crisis by sending Refugees to underpopulated Pitcairn

A few weeks before the firing gun was fired on the 2015 General Election some tiny filler articles started appearing in tabloids that confused me along the lines that there was a mutiny/revolution brewing on “the Bounty Island”. 

Eventually I realised that this was somewhat disingenuous and what they were trying to do was confuse Pitcairn Island with Norfolk Island but to begin with being thick I was confused … it is after all an easy mistake to make the two places are linked… But then I was supposed to be confused.  For  those of you who don’t have time to read to the end of articles here’s the geographical difference…

Pitcairn Island is a British Overseas Territory in the middle of the Pacific Ocean run out of the New Zealand High Commission by the FO.  It seems what the Australians were actually “poised to take over” was Norfolk Island but as we don’t own this anymore it’s more fun to insinuate this is Pitcairn as that makes it sound like we could be heading towards a Falklands situation.  But fortunately we don’t … so no war today …That said is Norfolk Island independent and is this a violation of National Self Determination?

Pondering this got me wondering what is going on far away in the Pacific Ocean and I discovered that seemingly not to anyone’s interest at all things are going pear shaped down both our other less famous imperial outposts – Pitcairn Island (still a BTO) and Norfolk Island (Austrialia’s problem now). 

Having fewer responsibilities at the moment as Pear Shaped is not running and feeling that before restarting we should contemplate fresh management structures I started to wonder if I shouldn’t take this a bit further and go somewhere with no responsibilities at all.  So what life is like for those who seemingly wish to escape from big government by living on remote islands with little or no income tax…?  And why are these places not full of Conservatives in search of small government?

Norfolk Island is in the Pacific Ocean but much closer to the coast of Australia than Pitcairn and while the population of Norfolk Island is mainly descended from Pitcairn people it is run by the Australian Government … or is it? 

What’s actually happened that faintly caught the press’s attention is that the Australian Prime Minister recently abolished the Norfolk Islands parliaments. 

If the Prime Minister of Argentina declared that he’s abolished the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands the Prime Minister of the UK would be expected to send in the navy.  Fortunately Norfolk Island is supposed to be run by Australia so we don’t have to get involved if the PM of Australia is abolishing its government … or is he? / do we ?

Norfolk Island is 13.4 square miles. 
Norfolk Island has a population of 2300.

Pitcairn is considerably smaller at 2.2 square miles. 
Pitcairn’s has shrunk to under 50. 

Officially Norfolk Island passed from British Ownership to Australian control in 1914 but it seems that there hasn’t been a lot of enthusiasm for being Australian since. 

In 2014 the Australian government sent a new “administrator” … a man by the name of Gary Hardgrave who was upset to discover that the Islanders still kept singing “God Save the Queen” and not “Advance Australia Fair” and so set about making himself about as popular as genital warts.

It has been forty years since God Save the Queen was first replaced as the national anthem of the Commonwealth of Australia,” he opined. 

To which the Island’s Chief Minister Lisle Snell replied “We are staunch monarchists out here. We have a staunch affiliation with the British monarchy, because Queen Victoria bequeathed this island to Pitcairn islanders in 1856, and with it came responsibilities.” 

National Self Determination at work.  Queen Victoria gave them away but it seems they didn’t want to go?  So she just said “We are not bovered" but they still love her.

Chief Minister Lisle Snell went further:  “Norfolk islanders in general regard their island as the homeland of descendants of the settlers from Pitcairn Island who, in 1856, were moved as a community to Norfolk Island, a community that came as a fully self-governing ethnic community with its own laws, language culture and traditions.” 

Should they not have a referendum?  Everyone else does?  They're all the rage at not solving issues today.

In other words the Norfolk Islanders see themselves as Pitcairn Island 2 but aren’t a recognised country by the United Nations or a BOT.  So Mr Snell said he would write to British MPs.  Good luck.  British people who live in Britain can’t get any sense out British MPs.  People in BOTs or ex-BOTs are going to find it very hard indeed.  And somehow I can’t see 38 degrees starting a petition…

Mr Mitchell Graham on the internet writes “To think that, we as a humble People came to the Australian Commonwealth Government with our hats in our hands in 2010 asking for short term financial help because of the GFC to get us back on our feet and once again become self – sustainable. But instead, we get financially blackmailed into submission and forced to open our borders to all Australian Citizens without thought of consequence to our Culture or resources, stripped of Democracy and told by Gary Hardgrave we can ask for a referendum on Self Governance till the cows come home.. Wow, that’s 21st Century progressive thinking!  Mr. Abbott, your representatives have squashed all investment ideas Norfolk Island has tried to instigate to help its economy and financial sustainability. You prevent us from accessing our fishing resources in our EEZ but have happily reaped the hundreds of millions of dollars from this resource which would have gone a long way to helping our sustainability. And then your representatives say they will improve our economy with more Taxes and Social Welfare. Oh but wait, you then want to add extra burden on to the Australian Tax payers pocket by taking Norfolk over. Hmmm interesting…..

To which Mr Abbott replied...

Ah immigration, referendums, open boarders ... so much for getting away from it all on Island.

According to “Norfolk Island The? Website(Helpfully called Pitcarners and thereby confusing UK tabloid editors into assuming the two islands are the same) Her Majesty Queen Victoria gave the Island to the Islanders to divide up “as they wished but in the years following their arrival this promise was reneged upon and they succeeded in gaining title to only a quarter of the island's land. This was the first of many promises broken by those with the power of administering Norfolk Island.” 

The Norfolk Islanders claim that in 1896 the promise of self government was “reneged upon” and that in 1935 the Australian government abolished free speech on the island for 29 years by insisting any publication had to be approved by the Australian Administrator. 

The Administrator is “appointed by the Governor-General of Australia, and administers the island as a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia. All bills passed by Norfolk Island's Legislative Assembly must be approved by the Administrator before they become laws. The Administrator acts on the advice of Norfolk Island's Executive Council and Australia's Minister for Territories. No Norfolk Islander has ever been appointed to this position”.

“During the 1970s a number of geological reports were issued concluding that the waters around Norfolk Island have a 95 per cent chance of containing natural gas and/or crude oil at commercially viable depths. The Australian Government acted quickly to claim, as its own, Norfolk Island's 200-mile economic zone. Under what power this claim was made is a mystery.

Suddenly it all seems less of a mystery…

I think it was Alex Salmond who said a Nation is a Nation if it overwhelmingly feels its self to be a Nation (whatever that means).   In this spirit “1994 saw the Pitcairners declare themselves as the indigenous people of Norfolk Island and the discovery of their genetic uniqueness. Australia today denies that Norfolk has an indigenous population; yet at the same time it has no accepted definition of indigenousness. The Australian Government also denies that the Pitcairners are a separate and distinct people, even in the face of scientific evidence to the contrary - the Pitcairners of Norfolk Island can only receive successful organ transplants from another Pitcairner.

Very silly everyone knows there's no such thing as indigenousness any more on pain of being called racist although I recently saw the UN promoting a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples so one presumes there must be an indigenous person somewhere.

These few hiccups could be regarded as just that but not to be dismissed to easily the website goes on to accuse Australia of “bloodless genocide”…to paraphrase David Mulholland anyone who’s genocides are bloodless is a bit…

Pitcairn Island on the other hand while more or less independent in theory has a different problem.  No people.  No no one wants to go to Pitcairn to live.  While Norfolk Island worries about its indigenousness and Europe argues endlessly over who should take which refugees from Syria ...Pitcairn Island can’t get people to immigrate to Pitcairn Island for love nor money (not even from Norfolk Island) and its population size is eternally stuck at 50 till the existing residents die … even the number of tourists is small because the only way there is by boat…





Cruise ship visitors





Other visitors










…and it seems that as it’s a bit choppy in the ocean often boats cannot dock for up to a week at the moment so even if you get the boat there you may be hanging around getting seasick for protracted periods of time before you can dock.  You’d think there’d be more given the fact there’s literally no taxation.  Are there really no media moguls on the run from the taxman wanting their own private island anymore?  Perhaps a James Bond villain… mind you even James Bond hasn’t been to Pitcairn.  He likes international travel but there are limits.  Places like Pitcairn and Croydon.  I don't know how much people earn on Pitcairn but I was amused someone answered this question with the answer to a different question...

What is the average income on Pitcairn?

It is difficult to estimate the average total income as there is no taxation and thus official records of private incomes. The average Government income is NZ$6000 per annum.

Perhaps this is due to the housing crisis.  While land is free there are seemingly no houses:

Is there accommodation to buy or rent on the island?

There are currently no properties for sale on the island. The Pitcairn Island Tourism department can help arrange accommodation for you with a local family on a charged basis or alternatively there are a couple of private self-contained houses and units for rent, subject to availability.

So their target market would seem to be retired builders:

I would like to build my own house, is this possible?

Yes. Once your settlement application is approved a further application can be made to the Pitcairn Islands land court for a plot on which to build your home. Land is currently granted on a leasehold basis. You can also apply for additional land for garden, forest or orchard, based on reasonable need.
It is up to you to arrange construction of your home, you may like to employ local labour, work on the project yourself or bring in an external contractor.

And there are of course no jobs....  Which can be seen as there being 100 per cent employment which is a great success ... or  a complete failure of the labour market:

What sort of work is available on Pitcairn?

There are no current vacancies but temporary positions do come up from time to time.  On the plus side it’s always good to see an economy where full employment has been achieved.

So how many refugees or migrants could Pitcairn take?  And would they all be on zero hour contracts?

Is there a limit on the number of applicants Pitcairn can take?

The current Strategic Development Plan is looking to grow the population to 80 residents over the next five years. Expansion beyond this has not been ruled out.
Not going to make a huge dent in Europe’s migrant crisis but every little helps…

Got to be better than moving in with Andy Burnham ... Yes as more and more people went off to Norfolk Island from Pitcairn back on Pitcairn things have gone even more pear shaped than when nine mutineers from the Bounty along with six Tahitian men, eleven Tahitian women and a baby moved there some time in 1790.


The sad fact is Pitcairn Island is one of the most isolated places in the world (apart from an evening at Pear Shaped during or even not during the Refurbishment of the Fitzroy Tavern) and no one wants to live there …even in the era of Skype. 

In order to figure out what was going on there in a bit more detail I sought out a copy of the “Pitcairn Miscellany” and discovered that it is so nice the editor had left the place – travelling to the European Union to grovel for funds. 

Fortunately the fact that we’re supposed to have a referendum on leaving the EU soon and that even Jeremy Corbyn seems to be a bit anti-EU doesn’t seem to touch them so I wont tell them this revenue stream might be cut dead in 2017 in case they die of worry.  The Greek islands may complain about being burdened with debt but according to the Miscellany Pitcairn at least is doing okay out of the EU.  Indeed there now seems to be something called EU Overseas Territories which must be our Overseas Territories and everyone else’s muddled up together and someone called Leslie Jaques gets to sign documents on the EU flag.  What would Nigel Farage say?  Probably something like “the EU is for everyone not just for people called Christian”.

At the moment the EU is funding the building of a new landing facility on “the other side of the Island” with cash from European Development Fund 9

The European Development Fund (EDF) is the main instrument for providing Community aid for development cooperation in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States and Overseas countries and territories (OCTs). The 1957 Treaty of Rome made provision for its creation with a view to granting technical and financial assistance, initially to African countries with which some Member States had historical links.  Even though a heading has been reserved for the Fund in the European Union (EU) budget since 1993 following a request by the European Parliament, the EDF does not yet come under the EU general budget. It is funded by the Member States, is subject to its own financial rules and is managed by a specific committee. The aid granted to ACP States and OCTs will continue to be funded by the EDF, at least for the period 2014-2020.

There also seems to be some kind of plan for a marine reserve area... they’re very keen on alternative energy and the 11th European Development Fund (EDF 11).

The Governor General of Pitcairn appears to be our old friend Jonathan Sinclair – last seen advising Jack Straw on the invasion of Iraq – who takes time out from answering Salmon letters to appear in some hall to sort things out on the remaining fringes of the Empire now and again via the mystery of Skype and VOIP.  Even Jonathan Sinclair however despite seemingly having no other job than running the island these days isn’t silly enough to actually live in the place he’s supposed to control.  And fair enough … after all the supply of fresh Ferrero Rocher there is intermittent at best.

As Mr Christian once observed if you really want to get away from government there pretty much isn’t anywhere better to go even if life there seems to eventually turn into an endless series of meetings with UK and EU diplomats and officials.  Apparently this island is now so short of people and money that you don’t even have to buy land to build your house on.  So long as you’ve got NZ$30,000 (about £15000) you can move there and set up home. 

Mind you some people don’t seem to be bothered about buying their own home and a house is being built “next to the McCoys with Department for International Development money" … see how easy it is to solve a housing crisis if you want to. Unfortunately all the DFID money has at the moment been diverted towards solving the migrant crisis but I wont tell them that yet...

The DFID investment doesn’t end there they also spend a lot of time stupiding Pitcairn’s bees.  Another house has been dismantled (not by the DFID) and someone called Steve built a new road.  At one point there was a fire but fortunately the EU was on hand to supply equipment to put it out 
I gleaned most of this information from the Pitcairn Miscellany edited by Jacqui Christian.  There is also a facebook page run by Andrew Christian in an attempt to prevent Jacqui from having a total media monopoly.

Pitcairn has had a bit of an image problem since 2004 when seven of Pitcairn’s 14 adult male islanders, including the mayor, Steve Christian were convicted of child sex offenses and stuff.  You see you try not to do jokes about sex offences and the subject pops up again…  Given the entire executive branch of the government is 4 people and one of those is the Queen, there are only 10 people in the legislature this caused considerable political problems.  Eventually Mayor Steve Christian was replaced by Mayor Shawn Christian his son.  Difficult isn’t it when everyone is called Christian.  Imagine if the political class in the UK was so small that you had two people with the same name who were related or married vying for the same political office or sitting in the same Cabinet.  Fortunately in a much larger country this can never happen.  Still you’d think a smaller government would get less complicated.  Or so a man who doesn’t believe in the National Minimum Wage told me on twitter before sending me this link which purports that the reason so many governments seem to have these problems is they’re not using processed based management systems ITIL and ISO9000. 

I did read the ISO9000 manual once and all I remember of it was the phrase “there are no carrots only sticks” whereupon I decided this document should have no shelving only landfill.  It seems that professors Mary Benner from the University of Minnesota and Mike Tushman from Harvard Business School have also now made the startling discovery that firms that adopted ISO9000 “several years down the line saw a decrease in their innovativeness, as measured by new technological inventions”.

These are the issues with which we grapple while we prepare to streamline the Pear before reopening it in a new venue.  Have we learned anything from Pitcairn and Norfolk Island that we can apply to the process management of Pear Shaped?

Well, probably not…

Since this article was written Tony Abbott has been toppled as Prime Minister of Australia as a result of poor opinion polling, policy U-turns and gaffes, mean-spirited politics and being "readier to alarm Australians about security—for instance the threat of militant Islam in their midst—than to develop an inspired economic agenda."   Norfolk Islanders are now begging Malcolm Turnbull to be nicer to them...