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Tuesday, 12 May 1987
Page: 2971

Mr McVEIGH —Is the Minister for Territories aware of a recent advertisement appearing in Perth newspapers under the name of the Clunies-Ross family and promoting a private island paradise holiday on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and of the issue by the Clunies-Ross family of plans and specifications-I have a copy here-for a Cocos resort village? Does the Clunies-Ross family have the right to declare Cocos Island as a privately owned island, and to conduct tourist holidays without the permission of the local island council? Will the Minister advise the House of any action taken to expose what appears to be a fraudulent advertisement and illegal use of Commonwealth territory?

Mr SCHOLES —The Clunies-Ross family, by the arrangements of settlement in 1978, owns five hectares of land on Home Island and Oceania House, which is the traditional residence of the Clunies-Ross family. That title is currently subject to being vested in a receiver. I am aware of the advertisements to which the honourable gentleman has referred. Under the terms of settlement entered into in 1978, the Clunies-Ross family is entitled to conduct such activities as fall within that agreement, and having guests on the island would not, at this stage, appear to be outside the terms of that agreement. As other proposals for tourist development on the island are being considered by the Cocos (Keeling) council, I am concerned that at this stage proper environmental studies have not taken place and certainly no environmental impact statements have been prepared in respect of the islands, especially as to the capacity of the islands to support that type of activity. They are very delicate and I believe that, before any major commercial developments take place on the islands, proper safeguards and assessments should be undertaken. At this stage, the family is seeking, as I understand it, to enter into arrangements with Perth entrepreneurs for tourist activities. I certainly have the matter under consideration, and I will be seeking as soon as possible to establish the information that I believe is necessary for the protection of the islands.