COCOS ISLANDS, INDIAN OCEAN
The Cocos Islands, for 150 years a self-styled "kingdom" ruled by the Clunies-Ross family, voted on April 6 to become a part of Australia.
COCOS ISLANDS, INDIAN OCEAN
1. SV PULL BACK TO GV Moslems pray. (2 SHOTS) 0.06
2. SVs Man on motorcycle. Woman washing clothes. (2 SHOTS) 0.15
3. SV Women push rays of copra into sun to dry. 0.18
4. SV United Nations observers disembark, along with Australian poll official. (2 SHOTS) 0.24
5. GV EXTERIOR Village clubhouse. 0.27
6. SV INTERIOR Electoral officer displays ballot box to villagers. (2 SHOTS) 0.31
7. SVs Cocos council official explains process. (4 SHOTS) 0.39
8. SVs People vote. 0.41
9. SCUs Ballot papers. (5 SHOTS) 0.56
10. SV Women waiting to vote after men. (2 SHOTS) 1.03
11. SV John Clunies-Ross votes. 1.09
12. SCU Papers being counted. 1.13
13. SCU Official announces result. (SOT) 1.18
14. GV Islanders listen. 1.26
OFFICIAL: (SEQ 13) "The number of votes in favour of integration is 129."
NOTE TO EDITORS: THIS STORY HAS COMMENTARY BY CHANNEL 7 REPORTER PAUL LYNEHAM, WHICH MAY BE USED IF REQUIRED.
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Background: COCOS ISLANDS, INDIAN OCEAN
The Cocos Islands, for 150 years a self-styled "kingdom" ruled by the Clunies-Ross family, voted on April 6 to become a part of Australia. Until the poll, supervised by the United Nations, the 27 coral atolls and their 300 citizens had been administered by Australia as one of its external territories. Before the vote an Australian electoral official explained the election process to the 161 eligible voters, many of whom could not read or write. A decisive majority of 129 chose integration with Australia. Their alternatives were either total independence, as the world's smallest nation, or free association. Both were options espoused by Mr. John Clunies-Ross because either one would have allowed the islands to remain a tax-free haven, protecting several companies he has registered there. Clunies-Ross' great-grandfather, Scottish seafarer Captain John Clunies-Ross, was granted title of the Cocos settlement by Queen Victoria in 1886. The islands were part of the British colony of Singapore until 1955 when they were handed to Australia. In 1978 the Australian Government bought the Cocos from Clunies-Ross, giving his coconut plantations to the islanders. Up to then the family had paid their workers in plastic tokens. The family still owns a huge mansion and five hectares (12 acres) of land. The islanders now plan to push for Clunies-Ross' expulsion. They say they no longer want to co-exist with him, alleging he ran the islands like a fuedal lord. Most of the islanders, from Malaysia and Java, were brought to the Cocos Islands by the family as indentured labourers. The Australian Government has pledged to respect the islanders' religious and cultural traditions. Most of them are Moslems. Integration with Australia gives them full rights as Australian citizens, but they will still run their own domestic affairs, starting with a 10-million US dollar housing grant from their new Government.
Source: CHANNEL 7 NETWORK, AUSTRALIA