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Thursday, 7 June 1984
Page: 2755

Senator ROBERTSON —I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Territories and Local Government whether it is the case that the previous owner of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Mr John Clunies-Ross, has sought to generate public opposition to the Islanders' act of self-determination and the dispossession of his land holdings on the Islands on the strength of the claim that his family were the original settlers on the Islands. Is this claim correct?

Senator GIETZELT —There is a controversy raging about the early settlement of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Some of the forebears of the present Cocos people settled on Cocos before the forebears of Mr Clunies-Ross. According to information provided to me, the first settlement was in approximately June 1826 when Alexander Hare settled there with approximately 100 people, largely Malays. The first Clunies-Ross arrived some eight months later, precisely on 16 February 1827, accompanied by his wife, children, mother-in-law, two servants and about 12 English and Scottish apprentices. As to whether there is any historical basis in the claim of Mr Clunies-Ross, the short answer is no, members of the Clunies- Ross family were not the original settlers.