North Burnett Regional Councl Mayor Rachel Chambers said the council does not have a position on which refugees they'd allow in.
North Burnett Regional Councl Mayor Rachel Chambers said the council does not have a position on which refugees they'd allow in. Tobi Loftus

Mayor says refugees could be beneficial for region

NORTH Burnett Regional Council Mayor Rachel Chambers has said she believes accepting refugees could be beneficial for the region.

"Council wouldn't be investigating this if we did not think it would be beneficial to the region," she said. "Studies show that multiculturalism increases culture and there are success stories of regional areas embracing people from different cultures."

She said if refugees were to come to the region, the council would not discriminate against them based on religion.

"We could never have a position on the types of refugees and type of Australian people that come into our region," she said.

"That thought process is ridiculous."

She said she wouldn't be surprised if there were already refugees living in the North Burnett.

"Refugees do make up part of the fabric of society in Australia," Cr Chambers said.

"I'm sure some have found their way into our region, as they do to all regions in Australia."

"Though as far as a government initiative is concerned that hasn't been the case at this point."

About 75% of Central and North Burnett Times readers have said they do not agree with Syrian refugees being allowed to re-settle in the region.

In an online poll conducted by the paper, of the 176 participants, only 45 of responders agreed with letting Syrian refugees into the region.

The remaining responders said they did not want refugees to settle in the area.

Cr Chambers said she would take the poll numbers into consideration as part of the community consultation process.

"As any politician does I have to make sure I'm getting the true figures of the majority and not the loud figures of the minority," she said.

Cr Chambers said the public conversation about refugees in the region was pre-emptive. "We have sent letters to state and federal governments with no response thus far," she said.

"Other councils have done similar.

"The state and federal governments have their own ideas about where refugees should be placed.

"I read an article in December saying they will be placed in Brisbane, Toowoomba, the Gold Coast and Logan only.

"We were just testing the water.

"There will be no forward progress on this until we hear back from the state and federal governments."

Cr Chambers said it was good for the region to have the debate on whether to accept refugees.

"Any debate is a good debate," she said.

"It means people are thinking about the issue, and that forms the basis of any debate. I have had calls about the positives and I've had calls about some advice in accessing services.

"I haven't had any negative calls, but that doesn't mean there aren't negative thoughts out there."

The council will investigate what the community thinks about re-settling refugees.


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