More than five hundred Sunni Muslims live in the Cocos Islands, a tiny archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The Cocos are Australian territory, and their largely unemployed Muslim inhabitants have been rorting Canberra out of millions of dollars in jizya for decades. To make matters simpler, the local imam is also the welfare officer on the islands.
Many thanks to Vlad Tepes for uploading this news report from Australian TV:
Below are excerpts from the accompanying news article:
It’s a little-known Australian territory that’s closer to Sri Lanka than Canberra, where locals depend heavily on Centrelink payments to stay afloat.
The bulk of the population is on welfare, and many are claiming much more than they should.
The island’s population relies heavily on Canberra to maintain their isolated existence, and each year tens of millions of taxpayer dollars are channelled to the external Australian territory’s population in the form of welfare payments and grants.
Despite the idyllic setting in the Coco Islands however, there is trouble in paradise.
2,750 kilometres northwest of Perth, and halfway between Madagascar and Canberra, is Australia’s most isolated Centrelink office.
Home Island is the unemployment capital of the Indian Ocean. It is home to a unique group of Australian citizens living in paradise at the taxpayers’ expense.
From the office Haji Adam coordinates welfare payment for the 550 odd population living in the unspoilt paradise that is Australia’s Cocos Keeling Islands.
Adams is not only Centrelink’s agent but also Chief Imam, the religious leader of the Muslim community which for nearly three decades has battled unemployment.
Living in paradise comes at a cost. The jobless rate fluctuates from 60 to 80 per cent, and the cost of importing food and freight is high.
“At the moment I have a number of customers who really have expressed their concern about the rate of payment from Centrelink. It is not really enough because of the cost of living, so I think it is really difficult,” Adam said.
Next financial year, the Federal Government has allocated nearly $53,000 for every person on the islands. All up it is around $37 million to maintain health, education, communication and airline services, and that is on top of a dole bill that runs into the millions each year.
41-year-old Azman Arkrie and his five children live in one of the 100 government provided homes on the island. He has been back just over a week from serving two months of a three month sentence in jail in Western Australia for Centrelink fraud.
He has so far paid back $11,000 of the $30,000 he illegally claimed.
Arkrie claims he was unlucky to have been caught, because he certainly was not acting alone.
Next month another home islander will face a court accused of claiming Centrelink benefits for two children who don’t exist, and while many people declined to comment on camera, it was confirmed from various sources across both islands that overpayment of welfare on the island had been rife for years.
Dieter Gerhard has lived on the archipelago’s west island for more than twenty years. He says “Australia has bred a welfare mentality, and it has bred that mentality by basically whatever Home Island, wanted the Government was there writing a big cheque.”
Loyd Liest is the only European living outside the settlement on Home Island. “I know the Government has spent a lot of dough trying to re-educate and retrain the people in that, but it hasn’t sort of worked,” he said.
Household incomes are often pooled and a housing shortage on Home Island means extended families live under the one roof. If no one in the household works, combined incomes could be more than $1,200 per week.