Senate debates

Wednesday, 4 August 2021


Small Business: Cocos (Keeling) Islands

1:36 pm

Photo of Malarndirri McCarthyMalarndirri McCarthy (NT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] The Cocos (Keeling) Islands, part of my Northern Territory electorate, are an unspoilt Indian Ocean paradise. But, unfortunately for business operators the O'Dowd-Liu family, their piece of paradise has become bogged down in a nightmare of bureaucratic and ministerial negligence. In March this year, the family's business premises, Cocos Autos, was burnt to the ground. It was the only authorised mechanical workshop on the island. Their loss is estimated at over $350,000 and there is no insurance service provider on the island. This has been devastating, as it would be for to any small business already feeling the impacts of COVID, with a big reduction in tourism related activity.

Helen Liu and David O'Dowd have been trying with no luck to lease suitable alternative premises since March, in a place where the landlord is effectively the Commonwealth government. I raised these issues in estimates, and just this week received some scant answers to the many questions I asked. I also wrote to the Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories, Nola Marino, urging her to help in finding a suitable new home for Cocos Autos. The Assistant Minister has not bothered to reply or assist the family in any way. They are facing severe financial and personal pressures, as they cannot relocate their business. They have lost the majority of their income and have, unfortunately, had to lay off staff. Their inability to offer a full service to the island is impacting upon other businesses and residents, who have no alternative for repairs of automotive equipment.

Cocos islanders deserve so much better than to be ignored by this Morrison government.