EVIDENCE given to a Senate Estimates Committee hearing today showed that the Gillard Government has no immediate plans for assistance to Torres Strait Island communities for repair and reconstruction of sea walls.
Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch and North Queensland-based Senator Ian Macdonald – who raised the issue at the Senate Estimates Committee – were concerned that while the government was happy to spend $250 million to assist Pacific Island communities deal with climate change issues and tidal inundation, there appeared to be no money available for Australian citizens facing the same challenges.
Mr Entsch said that this is clearly a case where “charity begins at home”.
“With all the money being wasted on climate change advertising, I would have thought the government might have been able to find some money to help the Torres Strait communities,” he said from Canberra today.
Senator Macdonald said that while an application for funding through Regional Development Australia had been short listed, it was just one of dozens of projects currently being considered by the government.
“This situation requires action now not in months’ time when the bureaucratic process grinds its way through.
“And there is no certainty that the application for funding the sea walls project will be successful because of the large number of applicants and small amount of funding under the Regional Development Australia Fund.”
Both Mr Entsch and Senator Macdonald said that this matter was urgent and needed government attention now.