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Pacific island vows to keep autonomy

UPI News Service, 04/02/2006 

Norfolk Island, an Australian territory and part of the British Commonwealth, is nearing bankruptcy but wants no interference from the homeland.

The tiny island 1,240 miles from Canberra was discovered by Capt. James Cook in 1774 and became a prison colony under the British. It was later resettled by descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives when Pitcairn Island had grown too small.

Since then, a nine-member elected legislative assembly has ruled 2,000 residents, with power to pass laws on everything except coinage, defense and euthanasia, The Scotsman newspaper reported.

The island's economy has been suffering from its over-reliance on tourism, which collapsed with a charter airline company.

"I do not think they understand the damage that moving in here and making us dependent on them would cause to the lifeblood of this community," Mary Christian Bailey told the Scotsman.

Bailey's husband traces his lineage to Fletcher Christian, who led a mutiny against Capt. William Bligh in 1789.

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Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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