REFUGEE PUSH FOR BUR­NETT

The coun­cil will in­ves­ti­gate a plan to bring Syr­ian refugees to the North Bur­nett

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE - Tobi Lof­tus Tobi.Lof­tus@cnbtimes.com.au

SYR­IAN refugees could soon call the North Bur­nett home, after mem­bers of the Monto Pres­by­te­rian Church called on North Bur­nett Re­gional Coun­cil to wel­come them into the com­mu­nity.

Monto coun­cil­lor Paul Lobegeier told the coun­cil in a meet­ing on De­cem­ber 14 he wel­comed the move.

“I of­fer no ob­jec­tions ... every­one has said to me as long as they aren’t towel heads, and what they mean by that is as long as they aren’t Mus­lim,” Cr Lobegeier said.

“The Monto com­mu­nity wants to do this.”

Rev­erend Derek Bound said in a sub­mis­sion to the coun­cil the com­mu­nity could ac­cept Chris­tian refugees from the Mid­dle East.

“Monto is a close knit and sup­port­ing com­mu­nity, I be­lieve this would be an ideal place for those refugees from a Chris­tian back­ground trau­ma­tised by war to make a good re­cov­ery,” Mr Bound said.

“It would be in the in­ter­ests of the com­mu­nity and the coun­cil to have this in­jec­tion of gov­ern­ment and as­so­ci­ated monies.

“If the refugees who come here have a Chris­tian back­ground I en­vis­age no racial or other so­cial ten­sions as a re­sult.”

Mr Bound said the com­mu­nity al­ready had the re­sources to pro­vide for the needs of refugees “trau­ma­tised by war at low cost to the gov­ern­ment, while at the same time help­ing the ru­ral com­mu­nity”.

“There are a num­ber of empty homes in (Monto) for very rea­son­able rent,” Mr Bound said.

“We have more than ad­e­quate med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and coun­selling ser­vices, we have more than ad­e­quate ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties con­sist­ing of three pri­mary schools in­clud­ing a catholic school and a well or­gan­ised high school.”

Mr Bound said he and his wife have post-grad­u­ate qual­i­fi­ca­tions in teach­ing English as a sec­ond lan­guage.

North Bur­nett Re­gional Coun­cil CEO Mark Pitt said the Racial Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act pre­vented the coun­cil dis­crim­i­nat­ing against refugees based on re­li­gion.

“If the Com­mon­wealth de­cides to send them here, you’ll get what you are given,” Mr Pitt said.

The coun­cil voted to hold com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tions on the is­sue.

RE­CENTLY, there has been a push from some peo­ple in the North Bur­nett to wel­come Syr­ian refugees es­cap­ing fear and per­se­cu­tion into our com­mu­ni­ties.

The Syr­ian con­flict has been go­ing since 2011 and has seen a larger num­ber of peo­ple dis­placed than the Sec­ond World War.

To all that are push­ing to wel­come Syr­ian refugees into our com­mu­nity, thank you. These peo­ple need our help, prob­a­bly more than any­one else in the world, and any­thing we can do to help them is a good thing.

While the ef­forts of the peo­ple call­ing for the refugees is com­mend­able, we can­not just ac­cept Chris­tian Syr­i­ans. Not only would that be against the Racial Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act, but it would be ig­nor­ing an even larger num­ber of peo­ple that need help. Groups like ISIS aren’t just killing Chris­tians; the ma­jor­ity of their vic­tims are other Mus­lims.

Mus­lims don’t threaten our way of life; their life­style isn’t in­com­pat­i­ble with ours.

The high school I went to was mul­ti­cul­tural and many of my friends were Mus­lim. They were some of the kind­est and most gen­er­ous peo­ple I have met. They have gone on to be­come doc­tors, nurses, lawyers, mak­ing the com­mu­nity a bet­ter place.

I even bumped into some of them the other night at a Harry Pot­ter trivia night at a bar in Bris­bane’s West End.

It is a great thing for the com­mu­nity to ac­cept refugees, and the di­ver­sity they bring will make the Bur­nett stronger.

PHOTO: SYR­IAN ARAB NEWS AGENCY/AAP

De­stroyed build­ings in the Al-Sukari dis­trict of Aleppo, Syria on De­cem­ber 23 2016.

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