No detention centre for Coast

AFTER three days of phone calls and emails, Labor's Immigration Minister's advisor says the Fraser Coast is not being currently considered to house refugees, in spite of escalating local talk to the contrary.

“I finally managed to get an answer from them,” Member for Hinkler Paul Neville said yesterday.

“I've been asking since Monday.

“The minister's advisor said no to a detention centre, to a transit camp and to the use of local accommodation to house migrants.”

Meanwhile Fraser Coast business leaders yesterday supported the creation of a refugee centre here in the wake of news that Christmas Island is now full.

Maryborough Chamber of Commerce president Lance Stone, who sits on the advisory committee to Maryborough Correctional Centre, said a detention centre here “would equate economically” to the prison.

“The correctional centre injects into the community several million dollars a year. Staff live locally. They buy locally.

“Using that as a comparison, I can see an injection of employment, capital works and also the opportunity to purchase produce and requirements for a refugee centre locally.

“It's all positive.”

Hervey Bay Chamber of Commerce president Bernard Whebell said “the Bay chamber would welcome any form of responsible industry that brings dollars into this community”.

“We've had the prison in this community for a number of years and I believe a refugee camp would bring less fear with it,” he said.

“I'll be talking with our executive about perhaps taking this further.”

Councillor David Dalgleish said he'd want a commitment that any construction work and materials be provided by local businesses and suppliers.

“And I would insist that any form of accommodation that's funded by anyone other than the occupant be filled at a ratio of one-one, that is one legitimate refugee to one homeless Australian person,” Cr Dalgleish said.

“We may have a moral obligation to helping people in need but I believe that help starts at home.”

Lance Stone said Monto had recently put its hand up for a detention centre.

“Perhaps we're inclined to be a bit elitist,” he said.

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