The Palaszczuk Government is committing AU$2.135 million to improve digital infrastructure and telecommunications in the Torres Strait in support of a Federal Government funding submission.
Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch announced the commitment today in Cairns alongside Ministerial Champion for Torres Strait Shannon Fentiman and Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland Coralee O’Rourke.
Torres Strait Island Regional Council Mayor Fred Gela joined the Ministers to announce the commitment, which will support the council's submission for Federal Government funding under the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF).
Minister Enoch said, if successful in securing full funding, the Torres Strait Island Regional Council’s digital expansion project would bridge the digital divide impacting on residents, businesses and governments across the Torres Strait region.
“Providing high quality connectivity across the Torres Strait region will bring significant community, service delivery, safety and economic development benefits,” Ms. Enoch said.
Ministerial Champion for the Torres Strait Shannon Fentiman said she was proud the State Government had committed funding to help improve the digital network for residents in the region.
“I know from my travels to the Torres Strait that there have been limitations and issues with the network. This is one of the most isolated regions in Australia, and the residents there deserve to be better connected,” she said.
Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland Coralee O’Rourke said improved access to technology would be life changing for people living across the Torres Strait.
“On the mainland, we often take for granted our connection to technology, but this is something all families in North Queensland deserve. For areas like the Torres Strait, a better connection means better communication with the rest of the state and even the world. It represents new opportunities to learn and discover,” Mrs O’Rourke said.
Torres Strait Island Regional Council Mayor Fred Gela said the project would deliver a comprehensive expansion to the digital network serving the Torres Straits.
“With advancements in technology and increased dependence of councils, government agencies, businesses and residents on the internet for delivering services such as healthcare, education, online banking and bookings, there is an increasing demand for improved access, speed and reliability of digital networks,” he said.
“The project will greatly increase the capacity of the network linking the mainland through the central and northern islands.”
The Torres Strait Island Regional Council will make a submission for additional funding for the project from the Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund which closes on 31 March.