I am looking forward to spending the coming week on Christmas Island (CI) and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (CKI) as the Australia Government continues to invest in, and prioritise, the economic diversification and sustainability of the Indian Ocean Territories (IOT).
Much has happened since my last visit and we are still working through COVID-19. I am keen to hear from you how to foster entrepreneurship and innovation as you look for new business opportunities to support tourism and diversify your economy.
Since I became Assistant Minister for Territories, the Australian Government has delivered significant funding for infrastructure across the IOT, in tourism, and diversification through research and education. I commend those of you who are working hard to take advantage of opportunities created by these investments, and increases in tourism.
As announced in the recent Federal Budget for 2021-22, we have committed $2.3 million to promote economic diversification and growth across Christmas Island (CI) and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (CKI). Through this funding, we are delivering a number of new projects including improving water security, developing a waste management strategy and a new grants program for local landholders and research organisations to support trials for innovative agricultural methods on Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Throughout the past eighteen months, the CI and CKI communities have faced unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am looking forward to returning to the region to see the progress made on the 23 projects funded through the Australian Government’s tailored $8.15 million economic stimulus package to support the IOT through the impacts of COVID-19. The purpose of the projects was to stimulate the local economy by providing immediate local employment and contracting opportunities. It was also provided to improve community infrastructure, amenities and to support future tourists. I look forward to hearing from tourism and business operators, local contractors and tradespeople who are delivering the economic stimulus and diversification projects.
The visit will allow me to engage with the Shires on issues of shared importance and view some of their key projects and infrastructure investments, developed with the support of the Australian Government.
As Assistant Minister, I am committed to working with you to promote a stronger, more resilient and sustainable region. I will be on Christmas Island from 25-29 June and then Cocos from 29 June-2 July. I welcome this opportunity to meet with many of you during this time.