Australian Government investment in the IOT in 2018-19

As we move into a new financial year, I would like to provide an update to the community on the investments and initiatives undertaken by the Australian Government in 2018–19 to improve essential services, upgrade infrastructure, protect the environment, and ensure the ongoing prosperity and diversity of our unique Indian Ocean Territories (IOT).

Last financial year, the Australian Government invested $135.2 million in the IOT as part of our commitment to ensure our communities have access to services comparable to other similar Australian communities. This includes funding for essential infrastructure, provision of state-type services, and other important economic and environmental initiatives.

Community Services

In 2018–19 the Australian Government invested $125.2 million to ensure high quality essential services are delivered to the IOT.

The Australian Government funds 44 Service Arrangements with Western Australian (WA) State Government agencies, with a budget of $39 million in 2018–19. This included $14.8 million for education services, $8.1 million for the provision of continuous and safe drinking water and wastewater services, and $230,000 for community legal services. We're also provided funding to WA State Government agencies to undertake critical invasive weeds and insects management programs.

We also have continued to fund the delivery of community services through the Indian Ocean Territories Administration, including $42 million for health, energy, and property and infrastructure services.

The Australian Government continues to directly fund the provision of community police services by the Australian Federal Police and to underwrite commercial air passenger and freight services and port management services provided by Virgin Australia, Toll Logistics and Linx.

We continued to support both the Shires of Christmas Island (CI) and Cocos (Keeling) Islands (CKI) providing $10 million to deliver local government and municipal services  to local communities, including $670,000 for road maintenance services. We also continued to provide $1.9 million for bus and ferry services in the IOT and $800,000 for the operation of the CI Recreation Centre.

Capital works projects

In 2018/19 the Australian Government invested $10 million in capital works projects in the IOT, including:

  • investing in upgrades to public housing, the airport and to coastal erosion mitigation on CKI, and
  • delivering upgrades to the power station, police station, and port and airport infrastructure on CI.
  • We've also invested in other community assets including:
  • vital new health equipment including new blood fridges and dental and x-ray medical equipment
  • upgrades to essential fire protection infrastructure on CI
  • upgrades at places of worship and sporting clubs
  • repairs to the pool facilities at the CI Recreation Centre
  • Work is now underway to fast track targeted measures to better manage stormwater flows at key sites, including:
  • redesign of the Drumsite stormwater arrangements
  • replacing inadequate or failing drainage and stormwater systems, and
  • construction of stormwater flow registers which will be installed in August

In 2018–19 work also commenced on a $27.3 million (over three years) program of works to replace the wharf crane and mooring systems on CI.

Looking forward

A number of strategic planning initiatives were commenced or completed in 2018–19, which will support economic and community development in the IOT going forward.

In order to provide certainty for future development, and balance economic activity with environmental concerns we have commenced the Strategic Assessment of Christmas Island against the national environmental law. We have also commenced work on Heritage Management Plans for CI to ensure that our heritage is protected, and that commercial and residential development can continue, and have consulted with the CI community on issues associated with a potential re-establishment of a casino.

In 2018–19, the Australian Government released the final report on health needs in the IOT, including recommendations to inform the development of a five-year strategic plan for the IOTHS.

The Australian Government also provided $100,000 for the development of the CKI Strategic Plan and $500,000 to implement initiatives from both the CI and CKI plans.

In addition to existing funding the Australian Government has committed:

  • $750,000 to repair and refurbish other areas of the CI Recreation Centre.
  • A further $1.3 million (over two years) to develop business cases for the replacement of critical port assets on both CI and CKI.

I look forward to continuing this work in partnership with the Administrator, Natasha Griggs, and the Department. I will continue to focus on implementing initiatives in the Our Christmas Island 2030 Strategic Plan and the Our Cocos (Keeling) Islands Strategic Plan—plans by our community and for our community, to support economic sustainability and liveability on our islands.

For more information about Australian Government services to our communities, please, including a list of funded initiatives, projects and services visit www.regional.gov.au/territories/indian_ocean or email indianoceanterritories@infrastructure.gov.au.