The Morrison government will spend $12 million boosting tourism, economic diversification and air services on Christmas Island after spending $27 million re-opening its immigration detention centre.
The detention centre, which was re-opened last year after Parliament passed the so-called “medevac” legislation to transfer sick asylum seekers to Australia, has housed only four people since, all members of a Tamil family fighting deportation to Sri Lanka.
The mid-year economic and fiscal outlook, released on Monday, shows the government is looking to pivot the remote Australian territory’s economy away from its reliance on the detention centre, which had largely been mothballed since 2018.
The report shows out of the $12 million allocated for Christmas Island, $4.6 million will be used to support “economic diversification … including improvements to tourism infrastructure, a business case for a science research centre, and the establishment of a business innovator and entrepreneur network”. The remaining $7.4 million over two years from 2019-20 will underwrite essential air services in the Indian Ocean Territories.