In Senate Estimate Hearings this week, North Queensland based Senator Ian Macdonald raised the issue of the Governments promise to take 12,000 additional Syrian refugees and how this might involve smaller rural communities in Northern Australia.
Senator Macdonald, Chair of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee said that the increased intake offered an opportunity for regions with dwindling populations to help facilitate and relocate some of the new refugees.
“There are a large number of smaller regional communities throughout Queensland and Northern Australia for that matter who have a major issue with a reduction in population growth.”
“I recently travelled through the Western communities of Queensland on my Annual Western Road Trip, where I saw communities affected by a downturn in population, which has led to a decrease in services available to the town.”
“The government has been afforded an opportunity to not only help a large number of stateless refugees but to help communities with issues of population growth and development.”
“This issue was specifically raised with me by the Flinders Shire Council.”
“Syrian refugees would be afforded the opportunity to be part of communities with huge potential in Northern Australia, but also the opportunity to be part of communities that are passionate and forward thinking.”
Senator Macdonald asked about a specific set of rules and criteria for Local councils and regions to apply to help in the relocation process.
Senator Macdonald said “It is important to remember that not all refugees are the same. They have all come from a varying number of different backgrounds of work. As a Government we would
be prudent to not simply place refugees into cities where they may have no ability to work and integrate with society.”
Senator Macdonald’s questions were taken on notice but the Department will respond to them shortly.