News State Western Australia WA attempts island paradise land grab

WA attempts island paradise land grab

Cocos Islands
The tropical Cocos (Keeling) Islands are a four-and-a-half-hour flight, north-west of Perth. Photo: ABC/Supplied/Rik Soderlund
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Western Australia is seeking to have the tiny and remote Cocos Islands, which are closer to Indonesia than Australia, become a part of the state, with the Premier spruiking the move as WA gaining its “own tropical paradise”.

Premier Colin Barnett revealed the move while addressing a citizenship ceremony on Thursday in Perth.

“There may well be some people who have visited those islands, and many Malays from there live now in Western Australia,” he said.

“Just think about it, we’ll have our own tropical paradise; an alternative to Bali.”

Mr Barnett said the measure would do a lot for the economy of the islands, currently an Australian territory.

“There have been discussions between the state and the Commonwealth over the past year,” he said.

“I am certainly enthusiastic about the prospect of Cocos and Keeling Islands become part of Western Australia.

Cocos Islands
Sunset on West Island in the Cocos Islands. Photo: file

“It’ll do a lot for the economy of the Cocos Islands, at the moment there is a mixture of Commonwealth and state laws that apply, West Australian laws.

“The local government there is set up as a state local government.

“The state also has responsibility for education, health, policing and other services, but for the people of the Cocos Islands to become part of Australia would be terrific.

Move has bipartisan support

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said the idea was exciting.

Mr McGowan, a former naval officer, said he was aware of the important place Cocos Keeling Islands have in Australia’s World War I history.

Though the man, who wants to be premier after the March election, indicated a potential debate about what constituted a “tropical paradise”.

Map showing the location of the Cocos Islands off the WA coast.
Map showing the location of the Cocos Islands off the WA coast.

“It’s an exciting prospect to have Cocos Islands as part of Western Australia,” he said.

“Of course the Cocos Islands were most famous in my mind when the HMAS Sydney sank The Emden, Captain Glossop sank The Emden.

“The Emden went ashore there, turns out now, a little bit of the wreck is still there but it’s a bit off the coast.

“The Cocos Islands is a magnificent place, having them as part of Western Australia is good.

“I heard the Premier say we need a tropical paradise – we’ve already got Rockingham, in my view, that’s a tropical paradise.”

The ABC has contacted the Cocos Islands shire for comment.

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