CLARE­MONT PLEDGES SUP­PORT FOR SYR­I­ANS

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By JON BAS­SETT

CLARE­MONT Mayor Jock Barker says his coun­cil is ready to get to work so the Royal Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety (RAS) can house Syr­ian refugees at the Clare­mont Show­ground.

“Aus­tralians have al­ready stood up at ap­pro­pri­ate times for gen­uine refugees, and at the end of the day they are per­se­cuted peo­ple who need as­sis­tance,’ Mr Barker said.

He said he sup­ported the of­fer made by the RAS to the State Gov­ern­ment to use the Show­ground for short-term ac­com­mo­da­tion.

“They are go­ing to need ex­per­tise in terms of ad­min­is­tra­tion, and we’ve got it,” Mr Barker said.

As­sis­tance could in­clude co-or­di­nat­ing vol­un­teers help­ing refugees and cloth­ing, bed­ding and toy do­na­tions.

Coun­cil staff have al­ready held pre­lim­i­nary dis­cus­sions about how they could help.

The United Na­tions es­ti­mates athe five-year civil war has dis­placed 6.5 mil­lion and killed about 220,000 peo­ple in Syria.

Last week, Premier Colin Bar­nett sug­gested the Show­ground be ini­tially used to house WA’s share of the 12,000 refugees Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott said last week would be ac­cepted by Aus­tralia.

Mr Bar­nett said WA had the ex­pe­ri­ence to set up “a large sort of camp en­vi­ron­ment” that could tem­po­rar­ily house refugees be­fore their longterm ac­com­mo­da­tion was found.

RAS pres­i­dent Ron Wil­son told the Western Sub­urbs Weekly the So­ci­ety’s sug­ges­tion to use the Show­ground was sent to the Gov­ern­ment the day af­ter Mr Bar­nett said WA could take about 1000 refugees 10 days ago.

“I think it’s an ap­pro­pri­ate thing to do as we are in a cen­tral lo­ca­tion, we have the ac­com­mo­da­tion and toi­let fa­cil­i­ties, the vol­un­teers, and are close to med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties,” Mr Wil­son said.

He said he had sup­port for us­ing the Show­ground from the few RAS mem­bers he met since the of­fer.

East Fre­man­tle Mayor Jim O’Neill and Fre­man­tle Mayor Brad Pet­titt have also writ­ten to Mr Bar­nett ask­ing if the refugees could be housed long-term at Leeuwin Bar­racks in East Fre­man­tle, where 370 Kosovo War refugees stayed in 1999.

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