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An autonomous, prosperous and sustainable community and council

Priority Area Nine - International border protection








The Torres Strait is one of Australia’s most critical regions for border protection, due to its geographic location, international border proximity and providing a home to complex and fragile marine reef ecology. The advent of COVID-19 has reinforced the importance of dedicated border protection and the balance of risks such as biosecurity, illegal immigration and illegal fishing remain of concern to Council





What are we seeking:

  • Support for additional infrastructure in the Top Western islands to ensure increased border movement during crises does not present additional cost to Council
  • Support for continued investment in operational hubs to enhance reach, vessel service provisioning and response times
  • Support for continued investment in marine infrastructure to allow for more appropriate vessel classes to service the region, in turn increasing employment and industry development opportunities
  • A permanent security presence in the Torres Strait region to assure the protection of international borders and adjacent zones.


At a glance:

The two Fast Response vessels, specifically appointed to this region and located at Horn Island, rely on a third party to launch, constraining vessel use to standard business hours, which is contrary to the intent of border security. Vessel re-fueling is restricted to Thursday Island, which limits the reach of vessels attending to international borders.

Bay Class vessels and helicopter services are typically provisioned as alternatives to the Fast Response vessels, however they lack the operational reach to cover our 42,000km2 ocean footprint. The Bay Class vessels have a poor track record of success in this region.

Vacancies of key Border Force positions in several island communities have been attributed to the reduction of employee entitlements such as rent assistance and remote area allowances.

The state of several of the Border Force office facilities within the Torres Strait Regional Local Government Area requires attention.

Appropriate marine infrastructure will enable appropriate vessels to be located in the region to monitor border security.



Council is well positioned to commence work on projects, or scoping of same immediately upon receipt of advice of funding.


Why is this important for our communities?

Border breaches can have an irreversible effect on local island communities’ ecosystems, cultural places and people. Communities within close proximity to the border regularly face ‘overstaying’ incidents, which causes additional downstream cost implications on Council services and infrastructure. Communities can be readily accessed by unregistered or unsolicited community visits, and intruders. Inadequate public lighting and lack of marine surveillance makes night-time access and vessel landings easily achievable, raising concerns for public safety.


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