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Christmas Island (Joint Statement)



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7 AUGUST 1979

■G7X CHRISTMAS ISLAND '

JOINT STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER FOR ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES,

MR JOHN McLEAY, AND THE MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS, MR BOB

ELLICOTT.

Australian and New Zealand Ministers have continued

the series of consultations on the Christmas Island phosphate

industry which began last December. The Island’s phosphate

deposits are managed by the British Phosphate Commissioners,

as agents for the Christmas Island Phosphate Commission, under

the Christmas Island Agreement.

The Agreement also provides that the two Governments

are responsible for general policy directions and the consult­

ations just concluded have been consistent with these responsib­

ilities .

The Governments have agreed, as a matter of principle,

that the Christmas Island phosphate industry has to operate

on a commercial basis; that no Government subsidies will be

paid to the industry; and that the industry will be closed

down as soon as practicable after it is no longer commercially

viable.

The Ministers said that adequate supplies of suitable

rock phosphate were available to fertiliser manufacturers

in Australia and New Zealand, from other sources.

. The partner Governments have indicated to the

Christmas Island Phosphate Commission that it would be appropriate

for the British Phosphate Commissioners to make further approaches

to the Union of Christmas Island Workers.

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It is expected that these approaches will lead to

a satisfactory solution of the present industrial dispute

on Christmas Island. . ‘

The Ministers said they recognised that the Christmas

Island phosphate industry might cease to be commercially

viable in the near future. _ . ■

The Australian Government was therefore working out

appropriate arrangements, including resettlement provisions,

for the future of the people on the Island in the event of

the closure of the industrj^.

CANBERRA