Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates from the Australian Government

Christmas Island strategic assessment

The Australian Government is delivering a number of initiatives to support economic activity and build a sustainable economy on Christmas Island, including supporting tourism and releasing Crown land for development.

To protect Christmas Island's unique environment and support economic development, the Australian Government is also completing a whole-of-island Strategic Assessment under national environment law.

The Terms of Reference for the Strategic Assessment Report were agreed on 4 April 2019. Strategic assessments are landscape-scale assessments and, unlike project-by-project assessments which look at individual proposals, they can consider a much broader set of actions. General information on the Christmas Island Strategic Assessment and the strategic assessment process can be found on the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment's website.

What will the Strategic Assessment do?

Christmas Island is a natural wonder and home to rare plants and animals, some of which are not found anywhere else in the world. The significance and ecological value of Christmas Island has been recognised internationally and is provided a high level of protection under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The Christmas Island Strategic Assessment will consider future land uses and development opportunities in an open and transparent manner, and provide greater certainty to stakeholders. At the same time, it will protect Christmas Island's environment, including its unique rainforest, birds and crabs.

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. In addition, the Strategic Assessment will not affect existing approvals made under the EPBC Act.

What will the Strategic Assessment produce?

The Strategic Assessment will produce two documents:

  • A Plan for future land uses and development opportunities on Christmas Island. The Plan will also set out strategies to manage the potential impacts of development activity on the natural environment.
  • An environmental assessment Report on the impacts on nationally protected matters from proposed development activities, and the effectiveness of proposed conservation measures.

Potential development activities include residential, industrial and commercial development, eco-tourism, mining and agriculture.

What will the Strategic Assessment achieve?

The Strategic Assessment is an important initiative. While protecting the local environment, it will provide certainty to developers, help to promote economic activity and diversity, and ensure clarity about environmental approval arrangements for up to the next 50 years.

Once the Strategic Assessment is approved, it will remove the need for individual assessments under the EPBC Act where proposed projects align with the Plan.

How can I have my say?

The Australian Government, through the department, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, will work closely with all stakeholders during the Strategic Assessment, including the local community, potential investors and businesses. The draft Terms of Reference were open for public comment from 15 February 2019 to 29 March 2019.

The department will publish a summary of public views. Names of those who made submissions will not be included in this summary. The department will not publish submissions except where respondents indicated in their form that the submission could be published. Information on how the department collects and uses personal information is also below.

The department will provide updates to the community on the progress of the Strategic Assessment. Enquiries about the Strategic Assessment can be sent to: indianoceanterritories@infrastructure.gov.au

Community Reference Group

The Christmas Island Strategic Assessment Reference Group is a consultative forum comprising Christmas Island community members, which was created in August 2019 to help inform the development of the Christmas Island Strategic Assessment Plan.

The CRG was appointed to provide input to ensure the Strategic Assessment plan is consistent with community aspirations. It is chaired by the Administrator of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Mrs Natasha Griggs. CRG members Vanessa Bennett, Patrick Chan, James Keogh, David Lee, Gregory McIntosh, Lisa Preston, Gordon Thomson, Philip Tubb and Joy Wickenden.