The long-term research needs, priorities and challenges for the Indian Ocean Territories (IOT) was the focus of the inaugural meeting of the IOT Research Working Group which took place today.
The unique and extraordinary natural environments of Christmas Island (CI) and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands (CKI) present real and substantial opportunities in education and tropical research, as well as tourism and economic development.
Community representatives and specialists with a diverse range of experience and expertise from the research sector make up the membership of the Working Group, which is developing a Research Prospectus for the IOT and informing a business case for an IOT Research Centre.
The development of the IOT Research Prospectus and Research Centre supports the objectives outlined in the community-led CKI and CI Strategic Plans, which view research and education as central to the sustainable, long-term development of their local economies.
I secured funding for the development of a business case for the potential Research Centre through the Australian Government’s 2019-20 economic diversification package for Christmas Island, with the Working Group helping to identify the areas for research, governance arrangements and operating model for the Research Centre.
I anticipate the Prospectus will be finalised later this year, with input from community representatives helping to inform its development.
The formation of the Working Group comes out of the IOT Research Roundtable that I chaired in February this year, demonstrating the Australian Government’s commitment to the long-term, sustainable growth of the IOT economy.
The Australian Government’s broader economic diversification package for the IOT complements the suite of economic stimulus measures I have previously announced to help create local jobs and stimulate the IOT economies both in the short-term through COVID-19, and well into the future.
I thank the Administrator of CI and CKI, Mrs Natasha Griggs for her role as Chair of the Working Group, the group members and the IOT community for their ongoing support and commitment to a stronger, more resilient IOT.