Premier acts on Torres Strait cost-of-living summit
The Queensland government will hold a cost-of-living summit in the Torres Strait Islands and northern Cape York next month to work out how to address the soaring food and transport prices in the region.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk originally pledged to convene the summit in September, but it has been delayed by events in the remote archipelago on the Papua New Guinea border, which is home to 4120 mostly Indigenous residents.
Local Labor MP Cynthia Lui has announced the forum will be held in the regional capital of Thursday Island on March 20.
"Further details to be announced soon," she wrote on Facebook.
"Please contact my electorate office to share your views about how the high cost of living in this region is impacting your life."
The premier called for a summit after hearing about soaring basic food prices, particularly on outer islands, during a visit to the region in early September.
"The cost of living pressures are probably three times that of what we're seeing in the southeast of our state and something has to be done about that," Ms Palaszczuk said at the time.
She said her ministers needed to hear about issues on the 16-inhabited islands from residents and then coordinate responses with the regional council.
The median household income in the Torres Strait is $976 per week, about half the amount earned by median Australian households, according to the 2021 census.
Ms Palaszczuk has asked Transport Minister Mark Bailey to review freight charges, including the possibility of increasing subsidies, to help reduce the prices of basic food items.
The 274 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.