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Mayor says Southern Downs unlikely to rehome refugees

Refugees from Syria arrive at the coast of Mytilini, Lesvos island, on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey, on September 10, 2015. Some 3,000 refugees disembark daily at the coasts of the island, coming from the Turkish coastline.
Refugees from Syria arrive at the coast of Mytilini, Lesvos island, on a dinghy after crossing from Turkey, on September 10, 2015. Some 3,000 refugees disembark daily at the coasts of the island, coming from the Turkish coastline. ORESTIS PANAGIOTOU

WESTERN Downs Mayor Ray Brown has welcomed 1500 Syrian refugees with open arms.

Cr Brown vowed to help resettle the refugees in the western region, regardless of how it might affect his political career. In an informal online poll, 77% of Western Downs residents voted against the idea.

But the mayor said it was about the future of displaced Syrian families.

Toowoomba Regional Council Mayor Paul Antonio has also rolled out the welcome mat.

Residents of the Southern Downs are now asking whether our region will follow suit.

OPINION: Credit to Westen Downs Mayor for brave decision on refugees

Southern Downs Regional Council Mayor Peter Blundell said probably not.

"Council have not considered the issue in any way," he said.

"We would need to consult with community service organisations and welfare organisations to ensure that we have the capacity to accommodate people from a culturally diverse background who have had traumatic experiences in the past.

"Rather than quickly putting the Southern Downs region forward as a destination capable of accommodating refugees, Southern Downs Regional Council would prefer to undertake the necessary planning and better understand the needs of these disadvantaged and traumatised people."

After a week of investigations into the logistical constraints of his own region, Cr Brown said the Western Downs had, so far, ticked all the boxes.

He said the region, including Chinchilla, Miles, Tara and Wandoan, could all receive asylum seekers. "There are about 500 good quality rentals sprinkled across the region," he said.

Topics:  refugees southern downs regional council western downs



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