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Refugees need more than Fraser Coast can provide, says Mayor

REFUGEES should be settled in the nation's capital cities instead of the Fraser Coast due to a lack of employment opportunities and cultural and religious services, Mayor Gerard O'Connell said.

He said while he understood the atrocities facing refugees, the Fraser Coast was not appropriate for resettlement because the region could not accommodate their needs.

His comments have disappointed an organisation set up to promote cultural harmony, whose organiser believes the region should welcome them.

Mayor O'Connell's comments come after Western Downs Mayor Ray Brown offered to house 1500 Syrian refugees in Dalby, Chinchilla, Miles, Wandoan and Tara.

He said there was no plan for the Fraser Coast Regional Council to offer housing to accommodate some of the 12,000 refugees the Federal Government has granted asylum.

"There's been no request and no suggestion," he said.

"We should be looking at not just detention centres or sub-standard accommodation but be in places that can support them as a community," he said.

"In fairness to the refugees, there has to be a proper assimilation and support - where there could be jobs.

"(I am) not pushing the problem elsewhere.

"That's probably why capital cities are best served because of their capacity."

Fraser Coast Hope for Humanity president Amanda Edwards said it was our role to help refugees, no matter what side of politics you followed.

"We need to support other human beings in crisis," she said.

"We're a very safe environment and they're fleeing from absolute horrors in their own country.

"Show them the type of security Australia can offer and the Fraser Coast would be a wonderful place that doesn't have that sort of any instability or violence.

"We could absolutely show them how humans are supposed to be treated."

Federal Member for Wide Bay and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said regional cities that did not want to house refugees would not be forced to.

"If council said it wasn't going to be cooperative then clearly we won't use the refugees as any kind of ransom," he said.

"It is a hard task and it would be hard for them to settle into a new country and it is important that the whole community is on board.

"It's genuinely about trying to support them to be a part of Australia and part of our community and getting them jobs so they can work.

Topics:  gerard o'connell, hope for humanity, ray brown



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