• High tides breach an older seawall at Saibai. (TS Connect)Source: TS Connect
The federal government has announced $25 million dollars will go towards building seawalls, repairing and maintaining jetties, and re-establishing local ferry services.
Shahni Wellington

22 Dec 2019 - 9:24 AM  UPDATED 22 Dec 2019 - 9:24 AM

A $25 million infrastructure package has been announced by the Morrison government for the Torres Strait to construct seawalls, repair and maintain jetties, and re-establish ferry services between Saibai and Dauan islands.

Community representatives have been critical of government resourcing for seawalls in the past, calling instead for action on climate change to address the eroding sealine.

Earlier this year, a group from the Torres Strait also lodged a formal complaint against the Australian Government to the United Nations, alleging it has violated their human rights by failing to address the climate crisis.

For now, the infrastructure projects will be delivered through the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) and the Torres Strait Islands Regional Council, and with the participation of Gur A Baradharaw Kod Torres Strait Sea and Land Council.

In a statement, Chairperson of the Torres Strait Regional Authority, Mr Napau Pedro Stephen, said the resources will be critical.

“In the Torres Strait region, a number of communities are on the front line of rising sea-levels which causes regular flooding and erosion, inundating homes and businesses and damaging local infrastructure.

“Many at risk islands have little or no option for retreat and so these coastal defences are required to reduce the impacts of rising seas on their communities.”

“Safe and accessible marine infrastructure provides the lifeline between our island communities, so the funding announcement to re-establish the ferry services between Saibai and Dauan islands as we as marine infrastructure is very welcome,” he said in a statement.

“We expect this news from the Australian Government will be warmly welcomed by communities.”

State partnership to deliver funding

The $25 million dollar spend is a partnership between the federal and Queensland government, and follows a trip to the region last week by the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt.

Minister Wyatt said in a statement that the funding is to reduce the risk of flooding in the region and improve safety.

“The Torres Strait is facing an ever-present risk of inundation and deteriorating marine landings is making life more difficult in the region,” Minister Wyatt said.

“The seawalls will stabilise the coast and protect the islands from sea flooding and the renewed jetties and ferry service will mean children have a safer ride to and from school.”

The region will also see another lot of spending from the Queensland and federal government, with an election promise of $105 million to address housing issues in remote Queensland and the Torres Strait set to flow early next year.

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