Freight subsidies to help bring down cost of island living

The Queensland government will fund $64 million in freight subsidies to curb soaring food and transport prices in the Torres Strait Islands, Cape York and the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Mar 28, 2023, updated Mar 28, 2023
A new freight subsidy will reduce the impact of freight costs in the Torres Strait. ((mage:  AAP)

A new freight subsidy will reduce the impact of freight costs in the Torres Strait. ((mage: AAP)

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the package is in response to last week’s cost-of-living summit on Thursday Island and she hopes it will ease the cost of living in the remote archipelago on the Papua New Guinea border and the northernmost parts of the state, where the local populations are mostly Indigenous.

It will subsidise freight costs for key essentials such as food, non-alcoholic beverages and essential household products, as well as building and construction materials.

“These are just some of the outcomes which will help ease cost-of-living pressures, and they are just the start,” the premier told parliament on Tuesday.

“Our government will continue to listen and work closely with the community, industry leaders and all levels of government to design and deliver these measures and achieve community-driven solutions for the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula regions.”

The median household income in the Torres Strait is $976 per week, about half the $1746 in median Australian households, according to the 2021 census.

In other regions to be covered by the subsidy, the median weekly household income is $1331, while it is $1132 in Kowanyama, $1071 in Pormpuraaw, $1069 in Aurukun, $788 in Napranum and $1010 in Mapoon.

Transport Minister Mark Bailey said about $80 million in state and federal government funding will also be spent on marine infrastructure, including jetties, boat and barge ramps.

“We heard the price to basics like bread and rice can cost up to three times the mainland prices,” he told parliament.

“The high cost of freight is a big factor.”

The 274 Torres Strait Islands are jointly administered and serviced by the state and local councils with the federal Torres Strait Regional Authority monitoring economic, social and cultural development.

More than 3420 people live on the islands with more than 16,800 living on the Cape York Peninsula and the Gulf of Carpentaria.

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