I spent a productive week visiting the Indian Ocean Territories (IOT) speaking to residents, community and business groups, and the local government about the shared and distinct challenges faced on both Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Both Islands are beautiful and the cultures are diverse, and it was a pleasure to meet with such passionate people who call the External Territories home.
The IOT’s face similar challenges to the mainland with cost of living and housing pressures, but there are some issues exacerbated by the very nature of their remoteness.
The cost of sea and air freight is high on both islands, and Cocos (Keeling) Island is at the fore front of coastal inundation as a result of climate change.
There is no quick fix to supply chain issues, but I am committed to supporting viable, community-led solutions for freight and air services in the long-term and we will continue our discussions.
The Albanese Labor Government is acting decisively on climate change and I look forward to ensuring the Indian Ocean Territories are very much part of that action.
The Coastal Hazard Risk Management and Adaptation Plan for Cocos (Keeling) Island will be an important guide for the next steps to be taken by all levels of government and the community – and I thank everyone who is contributing to its development, including through the recent consultations.
I am pleased to have been advised that the merit-based process for the new Administrator is nearly at its conclusion and I look forward to announcing the successful candidate in the coming months.
I will continue to build strong and collaborative partnerships that will underpin long-lasting opportunities for the region and I very much look forward to my next visit.
Thank you for having me!