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Cocos (Keeling) Islands on-track.



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M116/2001 1 May 2001

COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS ON-TRACK

In a response to the Islands’ local priorities and issues, the Federal Government has reinforced its significant commitment to the development of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean Territories.

Federal Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, Senator Ian Macdonald, released the formal Federal Government response to local consultations in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands on Home Island today.

The local consultations were conducted last year to establish the region’s priorities for discussion at the Northern Australia Forum which was held in Katherine last October.

“The outcomes of the consultations were invaluable - the Government has now taken the process one step further by providing today’s comprehensive response to the issues raised,” Senator Macdonald said.

“While challenges still lie ahead, I am pleased to say that today’s report is evidence that the Government’s efforts in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands are on-track.”

A summary of key responses includes:

The economic future of the Islands was raised as a top priority.  An Economic Development Committee will be established in the near future and will help the island develop a more sustainable and stable economic future.

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Improvement to the transport to and from the mainland was highlighted.  The Federal Government has secured an agreement with National Jet Systems to provide twice weekly flights to the island from the mainland, replacing the once weekly and more ad hoc service available until now.

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Skills shortages on the Islands was highlighted as a key issue.  The Federal Government has employed a consultant to undertake an analysis of the current provision of, and participation in, vocational education and training (VET) and the Adult Community Education (ACE).

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The community flagged a number of investment opportunities, including coconut harvesting, during the consultations.  Senator Macdonald will promote these opportunities at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) seminar series to be held around the country over May and June 2001. 

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Senator Macdonald said these initiatives were a small sample of the broad range of Federal Government assistance in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands demonstrating an enduring commitment to regional Australia.

“The overwhelming vision from the Forum was to adopt a strategic approach to the development of the north.  Today’s report demonstrates that strong foundations are in place to make that the reality,” Senator Macdonald said.

Today’s report is part of a series of ten regional Federal Government responses to local consultations across northern Australia.

***Senator Macdonald is available for interview ***

Media Contact: David Moore (07) 4771 3066 / 0417 774 724

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© Commonwealth of Australia 2000 Last updated:  Wednesday, 02 May 2001