Torres Strait receives $26.2m funding for coastal protection

Torres Strait receives $26.2m funding for coastal protection

Torres Strait receives $26.2m funding for coastal protection

Updated 26 February 2014, 21:20 AEDT

The Australian Government has announced new funding for flood-affected communities in the Torres Strait.

The Australian Government has announced new funding for communities threatened by tidal and storm surge flooding in the Torres Strait.

In a joint statement, the Australian and Queensland governments promised a total of $26.2 million to rebuild seawalls across six of the Torres Strait's most vulnerable inhabited islands.

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss says the works will provide island communities with protection for at least another 30 years.

"The Australian Government's plan for infrastructure investment recognises vital infrastructure extends beyond our urban centres and will ensure Australia's regional communities are not forgotten," he said.

"The funding from this project will not only combat coastal erosion through vital infrastructure control measures, it will create local jobs and give a boost to the local economy of the Torres Strait."

Australian federal MP Warren Entsch, who has been backing the Torres Strait campaign, says it's an exciting step forward.

"It may not be enough and we'll have a look at that as we go through but this is a major step in the right direction," Mr Entsch said.

"I would like to go on to the six affected communities so [Mr Truss] can see first hand what we are talking about when we have to continue to do it because some of them we can do quite cost-effectively and some of them, of course like Biogu and Saibai, are going to be quite expensive.

"But nevertheless the money is there. They can start working on this and the great thing about it is that we want to make sure in these projects that we maximise employment for local people in those communities, so it provides them with a sense of ownership of the infrastructure that we are putting in."

But Torres Strait Radio 4MW presenter Jenny Enosa says that despite the funding, communities are still in jeopardy.

"Some of the houses, people live right next to the water, literally on the waterfront," she said.

"It is king tides and monsoon season, the tides are extraordinary. The storms come, the water comes right into their homes. On Saibai... the water comes in from the swamp as well as the salt water from the ocean or the sea."

"People don't really want to leave their home island - these are their homes."

Work is scheduled to begin in the next few months when the wet season finishes. The project is expected to take four years to complete.