The territories of the Cocos, commonly referred to as Coco and Keeling Islands, is within the Australian territory in the Indian Ocean. Coco territory is made up of 27 islands and two atolls with only two islands inhabited by a total population of 600 people. The Cocos (Keeling) Islands is made up of two low-lying coral atolls covering an area of 14.2 square kilometers.
Christmas Island is also an external territory of Australia with a population of 2,075 people living in the northern tip of the island. 65% of the population of Christmas Island belongs to the Malaysian Chinese and Eurasian ethnic group. The Island was discovered on the Christmas day of 1643 hence the name Christmas Island. However, people began settling in the island in the 19th century. The governance of both Cocos Island and Christmas Island depend on the laws of Australia and are under the Attorney-General’s Department. Initially, the administration of the two islands were carried out by the Department of Transport and Regional Services.
Evolution Of The Position Of The Administrator
Administration of the Cocos Island was carried out by the Department of Regional services before being moved to the Attorney General’s Department while Christmas Island was under the administration of the Attorney General Department before being moved to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. The two Islands have been governed by separate administrators since the inception of the administration in 1955 (Cocos Island) and 1958 (Christmas Island).
The first administrator for Cocos Island was H.J. Hull who administered on the Island from 1955 to 1957 while the first Christmas Island administrator was D.E. Nickels who began in 1958 to 1960. The two islands were under 22 different administrators each before the first administrator was appointed to represent them. The first administrator for both the Islands was Ron G. Harvey who was appointed in an acting capacity for one year between October 1997 and October 1998. The incumbent administrator is Barry Haase who was appointed by the governor general on October 5, 2014.
Functions Of The Administrator
Though both Christmas Island and Cocos Island remain constitutionally distinct from the Western Australia, the federal government has the powers to legislate, and Western Australia laws also apply in both territories. The applications of such laws are at the discretion of the federal government of Australia. The powers to legislate and apply Western Laws on the two islands were agreed upon the signing of Territories Law Reforms Act 1992 between the government and the territories including the two Islands. The Act ensures that the state government provides the same services to these territories as elsewhere in Australia. The administrator, therefore, acts as a link between the state government and the territories and represents the interest of the both the island. Both islands have a unicameral that assists the administrator in providing local government services.
The Administrator is appointed when the governor general dies, resigns or leaves the country for an extended period. The administrator represents the monarch and Australia. Some of the notable administrators for both islands include Sheryl Klaffer, the first woman administrator.