Queensland Shadow Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships and Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt, has welcomed $5 million funding by federal Labor towards the provision of a jetty for Yarrabah at Mission Bay.

Mr Pitt said transport options and supporting infrastructure had been one of his top priorities for Yarrabah since taking office in 2009 – the other being more housing.

“After many meetings and letters to state and federal Ministers where I’ve called for a jetty for Yarrabah, the federal Labor government has listened to those calls, and those of the candidate for Kennedy Andrew Turnour, and the current and previous Yarrabah Council,” Mr Pitt said.

“This is a big win for the community which is the product of many years of work, which will be able to link Yarrabah to Cairns, Fitzroy Island, Green Island, and the Reef.

“Despite the relatively short distance between Yarrabah and Cairns the only transport route currently is a one hour plus drive over the range and around the inlet.

“This single important piece marine infrastructure opens the way for a ferry service for the community, which could reduce travelling time to Cairns down to less than 30 minutes.

“For a community with a lower percentage of vehicle ownership and no public transport, a water-based transport option will open up the town to new opportunities.

“Yarrabah has a strong pool of workers – many highly skilled – but no industry base, so consequently the community has a high unemployment rate.

[singlepic id=516 w=320 h=240 float=left] “A ferry service to Cairns could see residents obtaining jobs in Cairns, as well as provide easier access TAFE and other training options, including those in the marine industry.

“It also has the potential to provide an authentic Indigenous cultural experience for tourists close to Cairns. This, in turn would help strengthen the local Yarrabah economy with the subsequent jobs growth.

“A ferry service may also mean that future potential eco-tourism ventures that could employ people from Yarrabah – for example at East Trinity – may become a reality with a similar level of investment.”

Mr Pitt said the infrastructure would open up many new opportunities for the community so it was important that the federal government and council work work closely with all stakeholders.

“There are consultation processes in place through the existing Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) that should be followed,” Mr Pitt said.

“The ILUA will ensure that traditional owners through Prescribed Body Corporates, the Yarrabah Council and all members of the community are offered the opportunity to contribute to the planning, placement and design of this new infrastructure. ”

Mr Pitt said the $5 million funding is from the latest round of the Regional Development Australia Fund and is already in the budget.

“The federal Labor government has continued to support regional Australia and in particular has invested strongly in Far North Queensland, with projects like the the $150 million Bruce Highway upgrade project south of Cairns, the rollout of the National Broadband Network and important NDRRA funding,” he said.

“I thank federal Minister for Regional Australia Catherine King for this important announcement for the Yarrabah community.”