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Tourism, maybe new casino, for Aussie Indian Ocean island

April 16, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Australia sees a “bright and sustainable” future, centred largely on tourism, for two of its Indian Ocean territories – Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands – and it’s considering a proposal to allow a casino to be established on Christmas Island.

The Christmas Island Resort operated as a casino for over four years during the 1990s and was reputedly one of the world’s most profitable – prior to bankruptcy.

“I wish to assure you that consideration of the proposal to re-establish an integrated resort, with casino license on Christmas Island, is continuing,” Australia’s Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories, Sussan Ley, confirmed.

“I will provide another update soon,” Ley told Christmas Island residents.

On the beach at Christmas Island

The new  Christmas Island 2030 Strategic Plan notes that “a major resort development with a casino might also be on the horizon for Christmas Island” but it also reminds readers of the strange boom-bust economy of the island.

“Christmas Island’s economy is directly connected to its industry sectors and often suffers from a boom-bust cycle of activity.  With mining having been its mainstay throughout history, Christmas Island has also seen the rise and fall of the economy associated with the opening and closing of initiatives – the [phosphate] mine closure in the late 1980s for 3 years, saw the population dip below 1000 people, a casino economy in the mid 1990s saw a rise to around 2000, only to fall again once the operation closed, and now a detention centre economy through the early 2000s to 2018 where the population peaked at over 2000 people and is now likely to be around 1600 or less.  Due to the boom-bust cycle, we are all acutely aware of the necessity to diversify the economy to ensure that we are not relying on one industry or business.”

Ley added: “The Government is also providing funding for marketing and promotion activities to build tourism and to support training and skills development.  Development of an agricultural industry is being supported through grant funding to the Mining to Plant Enterprise Project, which is trialling local cultivation of fresh produce and other crops on former mine sites.”

Ley said her department was working closely with the Administrator, Natasha Griggs, and the Department of Home Affairs to manage the impact of increased activity on the island.

Delightful outlook on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands

“As discussed with the Administrator during her recent visit to Canberra, the Government will continue to support the delivery of initiatives in the Our Christmas Island 2030 Strategic Plan, released on 19 December 2018. This plan provides an important roadmap for a bright and sustainable future.”

Speaking of the 27 Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Ley welcomed the preparation of a 2030 Strategic Plan, noting that the Cocos (Keeling) Islands “are among the most beautiful and remote islands in Australia”.

“The islands have a strong and proud history as the site of Australia’s first naval victory in World War I, and the courageous 1984 vote on self-determination.

“The Strategic Plan provides a roadmap to maximise community wellbeing and build a prosperous, sustainable and diverse future for the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. It will support deeper regional connections to the broader Indian Ocean Territories, northern Australia and our Southeast Asian neighbours.”

Edited by Peter Needham

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