Mayor offers Valley refuge
THE Derwent Valley could be used as a location to settle refugees from Syria and Iraq, says Mayor Martyn Evans.
Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman on Saturday announced that the state would take up to 500 refugees as part of the Federal Government’s Safe Haven Enterprise Visa scheme to settle people in regional areas.
With the plan not detailing where the refugees would go in the state, Councillor Evans told the Gazette that he would raise the idea of settling refugees in the Derwent Valley at next week’s council meeting.
“We need to have a resolution of council realistically around what the process would be [and] what we would do,” he said.
“I’m going to community leaders to get more information too about what is required and how we go about taking it forward to our community as well and our elected members.”
Cr Evans said that the Derwent Valley should be considered because of its standing as one of the most caring places in Tasmania.
“Our community is an amazing community when we deal with times of need,” he said. “Look at bushfires over the state. Our community is probably more supportive of a cause. So it is a question that needs to be raised.
“There is already the Pontville centre there. I think that opens up some opportunities as well.”
Cr Evans joined community leaders from the Valley as well as Glenorchy and Brighton at Parliament House yesterday to meet state Opposition Leader Bryan Green to discuss the possible reopening of the former asylum seeker detention centre at Pontville.
“The Mayor of Brighton [Tony Foster] has always said that’s what it should be used for,” Cr Evans said.
Premier Hodgman ruled out the use of “detention style” accommodation for the Syrian and Iraqi refugees during his weekend announcement, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott said there were no plans to reopen the centre.
The centre was put on the market in June after it was closed as a detention centre early last year.