Statement to the Christmas Island Community
19 October 2018
Dear Christmas Island residents,
First up, I wish to thank you for such a warm welcome during my first visit to the Island.
This trip allowed me to learn of the rich culture, unique environment and the many bright opportunities ahead.
I am very optimistic about the future of Christmas Island and its community.
The 60th Anniversary celebrations were a wonderful occasion, particularly the Opening Ceremony and Mooncake Festival.
I also enjoyed the lion dancing and the chance to meet so many people from the wider community. It was a pleasure to present reading books (including Harry Potter and Doctor Seuss) to the local high school captains, Isabella and Natalia. I hope the students enjoy these books for many years to come.
Another highlight was opening the refurbished Minaret at the Mosque. Having grown up in Muslim countries, I still remember the call to prayer as a child.
For me, Christmas Island is certainly a showcase for people from diverse backgrounds coming together and living in harmony and happiness.
Australia can be very proud of the example the Island sets, both for the mainland and the rest of the world. Thank you to Greg and the Islamic community for your leadership and hospitality.
I also wish to thank the Shire Council, Christmas Island Phosphates, Tourism Association, Parks and local businesses for sharing your thoughts and ideas about the future, along with the challenges. I also thank the Administrator, Natasha Griggs, her team and the Department for the work they do. Together, we all have an important job ahead of us.
The main take-away points from this visit?
You need more certainty on timeframes for the release of Crown Land and the decision on a casino license. Please note I will provide these shortly.
That the Island would also welcome more northern flights, and the lifting of cabotage restrictions. And that you want to break through existing red tape so Christmas Island can be ‘business-ready’.
I am committed to working to progress these things, and others.
In terms of next steps, I look forward to receiving the community Strategic Plan which is in its final stages of development. This Plan, together with the outcomes of recent Parliamentary Inquiries and the ideas we discussed, will pave the way to the future.
The Coalition Government is all about helping people that have a go. Our commitment is to help Christmas Island to be the best it can be.
Thank you again, and I look forward to working with you.