Qld plans Torres Strait Islands summit

·2-min read

The Queensland government will host a cost-of-living summit in the Torres Strait Islands to work out ways to reduce "astronomically high" food prices and deal with other problems the Indigenous islanders are facing.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the summit wll be held within three weeks in the remote archipelago on Australia's border with Papua New Guinea, which is home to 4120 mostly Indigenous residents.

Her primary concern is soaring basic food prices, particularly on outer islands, which is partly due to high shipping freight charges.

"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 told reporters on Tuesday.

Local leaders urged the premier to hold a summit during a community cabinet meeting held in the Torres Strait earlier this week.

Ms Palaszczuk agreed that her ministers needed to hear about issues on the 16-inhabited islands from residents, and then coordinate responses with the regional council.

"As the locals have said: 'You've got to see it. You've got to feel it. You've got to witness it on the ground. You've got to be part of it to understand the issues'," Ms Palaszczuk said.

The median household income in the Torres Strait is $976 per week, about half the amount earned by median Australian households, according to last year's 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.

"If it's expensive here on Thursday Island (in) the more remote communities, the islands, it is absolutely astronomically high in those communities as well," she said.

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.

The premier said she was hopeful a Commonwealth government respresentative will attend the summit, and AAP has sought comment from federal Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney's office.