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EDITORIAL November 2023

ISLANDS MISSING OUT BECAUSE OF ‘REMOTE-NON REMOTE’ CLASSIFICATIONS

Our cluster of islands do not receive the State and Federal Government funding they deserve. That is because the SMB islands group as well as Cocchiemudlo and North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) are not classified as ‘remote’. Our classification is farcical because neither level of higher government apparently doesn’t know how to classify us. In most cases, the Federal Government attaches us to the ‘Redlands’ as a ’mainland’ entity. The Queensland State Government, apparently, classifies us differently from department to department. We can be part of the mainland Redlands in one and remote in another. The ridiculousness of the situation was highlighted recently by Federal Member for Bowman, Henry Pike, when he told The Friendly Bay Islander he was left ‘bewildered’ when a response from Labor’s Federal Infrastructure Minister, Catherine King, identified the wrong set of islands as the Redlands’ ‘Southern Moreton Bay Islands.’ He further explained: “I’m sure the 8000+ residents of the Southern Moreton Bay Islands would be as unimpressed as I am that the Federal Infrastructure Minister’s office and department don’t know where or what they are,” Mr Pike said. The error was made in responding to a joint letter from Henry Pike and 24 local community groups voicing the community’s concern with the scrapping of three critical grant programs. New eligibility conditions for the Growing Regions Fund, a replacement program for the previous Government’s Building Better Regions program, have excluded all Southern Moreton Bay Islands and North Stradbroke Island projects. It seems the Federal Government is realigning its former ‘Building Better Regions Fund’ into new programs that will support eligibility of all areas of the Redlands. The Building Better Region’s Fund only had part of our SMBI Islands (Russell + Lamb classified as ‘Outer Regional’) eligible, and did not receive grant funding for projects from that program during the period of that program running. Strangely, areas like Noosa and Surfers Paradise are now eligible for regional funding, but North Stradbroke and the Southern Moreton Bay Islands miss out. Henry Pike further says: “Unfortunately, the Minister’s response to our joint appeal demonstrates the clear disconnect between her advisors in Canberra and the realities on the ground in our community.” The Minister’s response claimed that the Southern Moreton Bay Islands projects would be eligible for the new Growing Regions Fund. However, her office later backtracked when it was pointed out that they had mistaken the uninhabited Cobby Cobby, Mosquito, Eden and Crusoe islands in the northern Gold Coast for the ‘Southern Moreton Bay Islands.’ “It would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious,” Mr Pike said. Our islands continue to miss out and do not get what we deserve; yet we face many of the challenges facing regional and remote communities, including having a median family income less than half the national average. As far as The Friendly Bay Islander can see, hardly any funding has come to our islands from The Federal Government. The State Government has recently come to the party with the funding our our new island jetties, but more is needed. We have a combined population in excess of 10,000 people (including Coochie and Straddie) yet we have little or none of the infrastructure and support amenities and services that a comparable Queensland town would boast. We are a remote group of islands with all the issues that come from that, and we deserve better. Both Federal and State Governments need to fix their island status issues so that we are classified fairly to receive the funding that we justly deserve.


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