Governance on Christmas Island: past, present and future

Stream: Panel 82 - Australian Politics / Media & Politics: Australian Sub-national Politics 
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 11.00 am – 12.30 pm


This paper will trace the past, present and future of governance on Christmas Island, connecting it with the concept of democratic representation. Democratic representation, the notion that communities elect individuals that represent them and help make decisions which bind them, has been cemented in the liberal democratic tradition for centuries. On Christmas Island however, one of Australia’s most remote external territories, a specific governance model exists where the bulk of legislation which applies on the island is created by the parliament of Western Australia, and the majority of key public services are delivered by the Western Australian government, despite the fact that Christmas Islanders do not vote in the WA parliament. This paper will explain how this situation has developed and what it means in practice on the island. Recent moves to reform this model will be examined in line with the principles of democratic representation. Furthermore, initial findings will be presented from the first ever survey of Christmas Island residents regarding the future of their governance arrangements.


Kelvin Matthews (Presenter), University of Notre Dame Australia
PhD Candidate
The School of Arts & Sciences
The University of Notre Dame Australia

Martin Drum, University of Notre Dame Australia
Associate Professor, Politics and International Relations
The School of Arts & Sciences
The University of Notre Dame Australia