Federal Member for Bowman, Henry Pike, says that 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.’
“I’m sure the 6000+ 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.
Community-led efforts in 2017 resulted in the former Coalition Government enabling these areas to be eligible for regional funding.
“These funding streams have been critical in securing much-needed investment in the Redlands”, Mr Pike said.
“Strangely, you now have areas like Noosa and Surfers Paradise eligible for regional funding, but North Stradbroke and the Southern Moreton Bay Islands will miss out.”
“Our letter encouraged the Labor Government to reconsider its approach to ensure that our community can continue to benefit from an equitable share of investment,”
“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 deserve this funding because they face many of the challenges facing regional and remote communities, including having a median family income less than half the national average.”
“This fight is far from over and I will keep up the pressure to ensure our islands receive their fair share of investment.”