THE repeated flooding of Torres Strait Island communities will soon be a thing of the past with Federal MP Warren Entsch today announcing that the Federal Government has locked in the $5 million needed to kick-start the Sea Walls rehabilitation project.
The $5 million grant was originally announced through the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF) Round 2 in May 2012 by the former Labor Government, but the funding was never allocated or contracts signed off leaving the region in limbo.
“I’m over the moon with this news,” Mr Entsch said today.
“The Sea Walls project is something I’ve fought for over the last three years, through two Private Members’ Motions, knowing each New Year that local families, businesses, roads and cemeteries would again be inundated while no action was taken by Labor.
“This $5 million, together with the $12 million pledged by the Queensland Government, means that the rebuilding of these broken-down sea walls on six islands will happen. I welcome the news and I’ll continue to work with the relevant ministers to ensure that the further $7 million that was promised by the previous government but never eventuated is fulfilled.”
Mr Entsch said that when the Coalition Government came to office, the real story of Labor’s misleading regional development promises were discovered with more than 1000 RDAF projects not funded or contracted.
“As a Government, we can do better,” he said. “Today’s funding has been allocated from the Community Development Grants Programme, as has another RDAF Round 3 project, $480,000 to upgrade the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA) Airport Refuelling Services.”
The airport is used by around 900 aircraft a year and provides a vital link between the NPA and larger population centres, particularly during the wet season when remote communities can be isolated for weeks at a time.
This project will replace the existing Jet A-1 and AV-GAS refuelling facility with self-service facilities allowing 24/7 access for private and commercial operators. It will create 18 local temporary full-time construction jobs and one other full-time maintenance job once it is complete.
“These improved facilities will mean that charter and scheduled flights will have more flexibility in the distances able to be travelled, routes and times, with the added benefit of lower operational costs for airlines,” Mr Entsch said.
“This will allow for more opportunities to bring in tourism, other businesses and new staff to the NPA and Cape, which will boost the local economy and improve livability in the area.”
The Community Development Grants Programme funding will support necessary infrastructure that promotes stable, secure and viable local and regional economies.
Assistant Minister for Infrastructure Jamie Briggs will shortly write to project proponents directly to confirm that Commonwealth funding for their projects will proceed, subject to project details being confirmed including a commitment that contracts are executed within six months.