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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2942

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(10.29) —No, the Administrator of the Island has not been instructed to declare the Clunies-Ross family persona non grata, nor has she been instructed not to have formal or informal relations with the family. There is no intention to remove the family from Home Island overtly or covertly. Mr Clunies-Ross has not applied to the Department or consulted the Department about any tourist develop- ment on Home Island on his land. There is the possibility of a tourist development on Direc- tion Island, I am told.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! It being 10.30 p.m., under sessional order, I put the question:

That the Chairman do leave the chair and report to the Senate.

Question resolved in the negative.

Senator GRIMES —Certainly, all the whites live on West Island where they are near the air facilities. All the islanders live on Home Island. I understand that that is their choice. I will get some details on that but I understand that there are no activities to change that position; it will be up to them. The main reasons that the copra plantations are in disrepair are their size, the poor land and the bottom has fallen out of the market, as Senator Crichton-Browne would know. It is not a viable proposition. A study is being made and plans are being developed for the pilot cultivation of selected fruits and vegetables using field crop and hydroponic methods. A horticulturist is to begin work in the Territory shortly and recruitment is under way for a development officer who will oversight all aspects of economic and localisation policy. I am told by the officers here that the bulldozer was rusted and not worth two bob, to use the vernacular. Therefore, it would not be worth--

Senator Mason —Why did they not sell it to Clunies-Ross when he offered something for it?

Senator GRIMES —I do not know, but I will seek details on that. I am no expert on bulldozers at the bottom of cliffs. On Senator Mason's question, I said that it was a matter of judgment by the Minister that it was not in the public interest. I am sorry I was a bit vague on it. I suggested that the criteria would have been the former relationship of Mr Clunies-Ross, and the difficulties in that relationship, with the Islanders but I will seek precise details from the Minister.