Thank you to Christmas Island

I was pleased to be able to spend some time recently on Christmas Island (CI). It was a valuable opportunity to discuss with business and community leaders the importance of economic diversification and future opportunities for CI and the region.

Local businesses and the community play a critical role in preparing the island for the future. I thank the Business Association and the local Women’s Network for their constructive discussions and ongoing work around existing and potential new business opportunities.

As you would be aware, the Australian Government provides public services and a framework in which businesses can thrive. There are initiatives in the recent Budget that businesses can tap into such as the instant asset write-off.  I was also keen to see the progress on the projects funded through the COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Package funded by the Australian Government. Also in the 2021 Federal Budget, $2.3 million was committed to deliver a number of new projects including improving water security, developing a waste management strategy and trialing innovative agricultural methods across CI and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (CKI).

The Indian Ocean Territories have a lot to offer tourists. A rich history, diverse cultural experiences and natural beauty. For CI and CKI to position yourselves as world-class travel destinations over the coming decades, it is vital that tourists know what to expect and that it is delivered consistently by the business sector and broader community working together.

During my visit, I was also able to hear directly from you about what you see as some of the challenges still facing CI, including the need for greater accommodation and hospitality options for visitors. Again, there are opportunities for businesses to work together to deliver these options.

I was also able to engage in productive discussions around freight, which is an acknowledged challenge for remote communities like yours. The Australian Government continues to monitor the issue and schedule additional air freight and passenger services to the region.

My first priority, and that of the Australian Government, is your ongoing safety, and while I am disappointed not to be able to visit CKI on this occasion, I look forward to returning to the region and engaging again with the CKI and CI communities – when it is safe to do so.