The Torres Strait Islands, off the northern coast of Queensland.
TORRES STRAITS: The Queensland government has hit back at claims from Canberra that it is leaving Torres Strait Islander communities high and dry without fresh water.
Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has told The Courier-Mail the state had refused to match $21.2 million in federal funding for water infrastructure programs in the Torres Strait.
Islanders currently rely on an emergency desalination plant and a barge that brings fresh water from the mainland.
But Local Government Minister David Crisafulli said it was the federal government that was making it difficult to solve the problem.
Mr Crisafulli said the state government wrote to Canberra saying it wanted both tiers of government to contribute but instead of replying the commonwealth “engaged in media warfare”.
“I really don’t think that benefits (Ms Macklin’s) credibility, and it certainly doesn’t benefit the infrastructure in the Torres Strait,” Mr Crisafulli told AAP.
He said the state government contributed $8 million last year for the infrastructure programs, while the federal government gave nothing.
Mr Crisafulli said he wanted to sit down with the federal government to work out funding arrangements.
“One thing that local government has learnt in recent years is to be wary of the smiling politician who blows into town with the cheque, funds something, then walks away,” he said.
“What we need to do is ensure the infrastructure that we’re building in communities right across the state are ones that the communities can then afford to own and operate.”
Comment from Ms Macklin’s office has been sought.