Christmas Island casino urged by report

CHRISTMAS Island should get its casino back, according to a report on the future of the Australian territory submitted to the federal government.
The island, best known for housing hundreds of asylum seekers and hosting a phosphate mine, was also home to a casino resort for four years in the mid-1990s.
And after requests from resort owner David Kwon to consider reissuing a casino licence, the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories recommended the Commonwealth grant his wish.
«The committee cannot see any reason for the Australian government not to facilitate this venture, especially as the commercial risk falls entirely on the proponents,» the report said.
«The potential benefits to Christmas Island if the casino succeeds are considerable, (and) the probable outcome of failure is merely a return to the status quo.»
The report pointed out that immigration detention was not expected to be a permanent fixture and tourism to the island had been underdeveloped.
It also referred to the limited life of the island’s phosphate mine, which on Friday had its lease extended for another 21 years.
The committee also said the weight of numbers of asylum seekers being housed on the island was putting a strain on the hospital, and called for more resources so «the provision of services to asylum seekers is not at the expense of services for residents».
The report also called for an urgent upgrade of the immigration facilities on the Cocos Islands, which it said comprised of tents with cots in an old quarantine station, described as «a makeshift solution to a new phase of the asylum seeker directly arriving from Sri Lanka».
«A more permanent and better appointed facility, built to the required cyclone standards, is urgently needed,» the report said.

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