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8 May 2007 017TRS/Budget

The Australian Government will provide funding over the next three years to build a new port in the Cocos Islands and remove asbestos across the Indian Ocean Territories, the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads, Jim Lloyd, said today.

The Indian Ocean Territories consist of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

"The funding will enable us to build a new port facility at Rumah Baru on the West Island of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands," Mr Lloyd said.

"The facility will include a new jetty, an artificial island and supporting infrastructure like roads, power and water. It will also include new shelter and toilet facilities.

"The new jetty and offshore island will replace the existing unsafe and inefficient freight handling practice of dragging freight containers over the beach. It will also provide improved facilities for school children and other inter-island commuters who currently have no protection from the sun or monsoonal rain.

"The new port facility is great news for people living on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, because they depend on sea freight for the delivery of essential items, like food, household goods and building materials, and rely on the ferry service to travel between West and Home Islands.

"The new port will also cater for the local boats and tourism operators who use the island as a base to explore the region," Mr Lloyd said.

The construction of the new port will start in 2008-09 and will be completed by 2010.

"The funding will also enable us to remove asbestos safely from 220 Australian Government-owned buildings and infrastructure across the Indian Ocean Territories," Mr Lloyd said.

"These structures were built in the 1940s and 50s, when asbestos was a common building material. The Australian Government will now carry out a comprehensive removal programme to ensure that they are all free of asbestos."

The removal programme will be completed by June 2009.

Mr Lloyd said that both projects would be subject to a competitive tender process. He said they would provide business opportunities for local contractors and tradespeople, as well as employment opportunities for local residents in both territories.

Media contact: James Larsson 02 6277 7060/0434 305 130