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Torres Strait Islands Region
Population: 4,895 (2008)[1]
Established: 2008
Area: 491.1 km² (189.6 sq mi)
Mayor: Cr Fred Gela
Council Seat: Thursday Island
Region: Far North Queensland
State District: Cook
Federal Division: Leichhardt
LGAs around Torres Strait Islands Region:
Papua (Indonesia) Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea
Arafura Sea Torres Strait Islands Region Coral Sea
NPA Region Torres Coral Sea

The Torres Strait Islands Region is a Local Government Area located in Far North Queensland, Australia, covering part of the Torres Strait Islands. It was created in March 2008 out of 15 autonomous Island Councils during a period of statewide local government reform. It is administered from, but has no control over, Thursday Island.



The Region was created on 15 March 2008 from 15 previous entities—the Island Councils of Badu, Boigu, Dauan, Erub, Hammond, Iama, Kubin, Mabuiag, Mer, Poruma, Saibai, St Pauls, Ugar, Warraber and Yorke. Its first election was held on the same day.

In 1984, the Community Services (Torres Strait) Act was enacted by the Queensland Government, allowing community councils to be created to own and administer former reserves or missions under a Deed of Grant in Trust (DOGIT).[2] Each was responsible for local basic utilities and services such as electricity, housing and management of local CDEP programs. They also worked with the Queensland Police to provide for community police officers—hence extending well beyond the normal functions of local government.[3] The Local Government (Community Government Areas) Act 2004 extended to community councils many of the provisions and benefits of the Local Government Act 1993 normally enjoyed by shire councils.

In 2006, the councils were involved in a consultation process which resulted in a Green Paper being produced. The State Government subsequently took over the process, and in April 2007, a White Paper entitled "Community Government in the Torres Strait: the way forward" was released, recommending both governance and structural changes to ensure the sustainability of governance in the region. The White Paper expressed concerns about workload and capacity to meet community needs, deficiencies in corporate governance and accountability and other challenges and issues. The Local Government Reform report in July 2007 recommended the creation of the Torres Strait Islands council as well as the Northern Peninsula Area council to attempt to address these issues. The Queensland Government responded by proposing the Local Government and Other Legislation (Indigenous Regional Councils) Amendemnt Bill 2007 to bring the two new councils into line with the recommendations of both reports.[4]

Because of the unique structure of the DOGIT areas, where a community owned the land and the council represented the community owners, concerns were raised by the councils about ownership potentially transferring to the new entities and diluting their title over it. Some councils responded by creating a private company with all community members as shareholders, and transferring the ownership to the company. This was opposed by the State Government who threatened to take legal action against the communities.

Following the elections, the Department of Local Government provided $675,000 to the Regional Council to assist with expenses relating to the post-amalgamation transfer process.[5]


The council consists of 15 divisions, each of which represents one of the former entities and elects one councillor, with a mayor being elected by the entire region. At the 2008 election, the following councillors were elected:[6][7]

  • Mayor—Fred Gela
  • Division 1 (Boigu)—Donald Banu
  • Division 2 (Dauan)—Raymond Soki
  • Division 3 (Saibai)—Ron Enosa
  • Division 4 (Mabuiag)—Keith Fell
  • Division 5 (Badu)—Wayne Guivarra
  • Division 6 (Kubin)—David Bosun
  • Division 7 (St Pauls)—John Kris
  • Division 8 (Hammond)—Nancy Pearson
  • Division 9 (Iama)—Simeon Mackie
  • Division 10 (Poruma)—Willie Lui
  • Division 11 (Warraber)—Philemon Mosby
  • Division 12 (Masig)—John Mosby
  • Division 13 (Ugar)—Florianna Bero
  • Division 14 (Erub)—Kenny Bedford
  • Division 15 (Mer)—Ron Day

Geography and Demography

The Region is effectively colocated with the Shire of Torres, which administers the northern tip of Cape York Peninsula and a number of islands including Thursday Island, Horn Island and Prince of Wales Island. During statewide local government reform in 2007-08, the Queensland Government considered merging the Shire with the other islands and communities, but felt that having one council subject to three different types of legislation would be inefficient.[8]

At the 2006 ABS census, the area had a population of 4,298, an increase from 3,958 at the 2001 census and 3,499 at the 1996 census.


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (23 April 2009). "Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2007–08". Retrieved 30 September 2009.  
  2. ^ Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (23 February 2008). "Land Rights". Retrieved 31 March 2008.  
  3. ^ Kaye, Stuart (1997). The Torres Strait. Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 12–15. ISBN 9041105069.  
  4. ^ State of Queensland (2007). "Local Government and Other Legislation (Indigenous Regional Councils) Amendment Bill 2007". Retrieved 31 March 2008.  
  5. ^ Minister for Main Roads and Local Government (27 March 2008). "Media Statement - State funding to ease transition for far north Queensland councils: Pitt". Retrieved 31 March 2008.  
  6. ^ Electoral Commission Queensland (28 March 2008). "2008 Torres Strait Island Regional Council - Councillor Election - Election Summary". Retrieved 31 March 2008.  
  7. ^ "Mayoral election time". Torres News. 29 February 2008. Retrieved 31 March 2008.  
    * "Fred Gela likely mayor of TSIRC". Torres News. 18 March 2008. Retrieved 31 March 2008.  
  8. ^ "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island local government". Report of the Local Government Reform Commission. State of Queensland. July 2007. pp. 59–65. ISBN 1921057106. Retrieved 2008-03-31.  

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