The Morrison Government will engage the Christmas Island community to explore new opportunities for growth, development and environmental conservation, as the Island undergoes an economic transition.
Minister for the Environment, Melissa Price, and Assistant Minister for the Regional Development and Territories, Sussan Ley, have signed an Agreement for a Strategic Assessment, with draft terms of reference to be released for public consultation shortly.
Minister Price said the strategic assessment would examine how future development on the island could be undertaken in a way that recognised and protected the Island’s unique environment.
“Christmas Islanders need enhanced business and development opportunities, but diversifying the island’s economy must not come at the expense of its internationally renowned environment,” Minister Price said.
“Christmas Island is truly one of Australia’s natural wonders. There is nowhere else on this planet where you can watch millions of red crabs migrate every year from tropical rainforest to beautiful coral reefs to lay their eggs.
To that end, the strategic assessment will consider future land uses and opportunities in line with the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. It will remove the need for individual assessments under the EPBC Act where proposed projects align with the endorsed plan.
“The Coalition is committed to providing certainty for local business and developers by streamlining environmental approval processes, without comprising Australia’s high standard of environmental protection.
Assistant Minister Ley said the Government had an important role to play in supporting efforts to grow the Island economy by releasing Commonwealth land for commercial development.
“Christmas Island is going through a transitional phase and we want to ensure the local community has the right support to facilitate future growth and development,” Assistant Minister Ley said.
“An approved Strategic Assessment will provide greater certainty about future investment on Christmas Island.
“The Strategic Assessment presents an opportunity to ensure environmentally sustainable development and conservation of the Island’s internationally recognised environment continues to be a priority over the long term.
“The Strategic Assessment will not approve developments in the Christmas Island National Park, which will continue to require individual approvals under national environment law and meet the requirements of the Christmas Island National Park Management Plan.”
Further information about the strategic assessment is available on the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Territories at www.infrastructure.gov.au