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1998/99 budget highlights: Funding boost for Indian Ocean Territories



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M e d i a

R e l e a s eTHE HON ALEX SOMLYAY MR Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government

1998/99 BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS

FUNDING BOOST FOR INDIAN OCEAN TERRITORIES

The Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government, Alex Somlyay, has announced that an additional $13.4 million would be provided in the 1998-99 budget for services and infrastructure for the Commonwealth Territories of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. He also announced a major review of the Commonwealth’s role in

these Territories.

The Government’s objective for these isolated communities is to ensure that residents have access to service delivery standards which are, as far as practicable, the same as comparable communities on mainland Australia” Mr Somlyay said. “Funding is needed to ensure the provision of air services, and to continue infrastructure upgrading, particularly on Christmas Island where housing has been identified as a priority issue.”

“The Indian Ocean Territories Shire Councils will be provided with increased funding to bring them into line with WA Councils. Additional funding will also be provided to improve asset maintenance, which had been neglected by the previous government,” he said.

“It is timely,” the Minister said, when announcing the increased level of funding, “that a review of the long term economic sustainability of the Indian Ocean Territories be carried out.”

He said the aim of the review would be to asses the future role for the Commonwealth in the administration of these territories and to recommend future funding arrangements, having regard to the Commonwealth’s objectives. The review would be conducted jointly with the Department of Finance and Administration and would involve consultation with the local

communities.

“The funds provided in this budget show this Government’s commitment to the future of these territories” Mr Somlyay said.

“In contrast to previous governments we are willing to address issues which have been neglected in the past, and to consult with the local communities on their future,” Mr Somlyay concluded.

Ends. 12 May 1998

Contact: Graeme Hallett (Minister’s office) 02 6277 7060

(B2) S42/98