Mayoral Candidates Have Their Say on County Refugee Problems | Narooma News

Six of the seven groups that ran for council in the local elections on December 4 had their say in the issues facing refugees in the Eurobodalla Shire.

Eurobodalla Refugee Action Collective sent a series of questions to council groups and received responses from every group except A Better Council with mayoral candidates Tubby Harrison and Gary Smith.

The questions were as follows:

  1. Did you know that Eurobodalla is already a Refugee Reception Zone? What our Shire is a reception area for you?
  2. What do you think of unlimited detention?
  3. What is your take on offshore processing?
  4. What is your opinion on multicultural diversity in the community?
  5. Would you like to support a part-time multicultural agent in the Eurobodalla Council?

Here are the responses (some in full, others modified for length) received by RAC Eurobodalla.

Alison Worthington (Greens)

We are proud to follow in the footsteps of former Greens Councilor Gabi Harding who successfully presented the “Eurobodalla Refugee Welcome Zone” motion to our County Council in October 2016. It was a demonstration of support and community advocacy for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers who may come to settle in Eurobodalla. He also raised the notion of continuing education on refugee issues for residents of Eurobodalla, as well as the benefits that a multicultural society brings to our region.

We want to live in a community that welcomes refugees and that will mean having sufficient resources to do so. The Council has a big role to play. Your green counselors will call for the creation of a neighborhood center and include staff dedicated to multicultural services to support people of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

We also recognize that a truly successful multicultural society cannot be achieved without justice and self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Regarding the Australian government’s cruel regime of indefinite detention and offshore treatment, please refer to the Australian Greens policy of “Compassion for Refugees”.

David Grace (Work)

We read the report proposing the Refugee Reception Zone in October 2015 and we support the principles behind this initiative. We also note that there is no mention of this statement in the council’s most recent community strategic plan or in the delivery schedule and operational plan 2017-2022. As the Council has declared itself to be a “refugee reception area”, this must be translated into action.

The Eurobodalla Labor team understands that this declaration means that we are working with those who have been refugees, to build a community that welcomes them. Part of this process would also be to build a positive vision of refugees in our wider community, perhaps through events and publicity organized by the council, in consultation with the multicultural community.

We do not support the indefinite detention of asylum seekers. However, we support a brief period where asylum seekers’ claims are investigated and health checks are carried out.

We do not support processing abroad.

Eurobodalla Labor strongly supports multicultural diversity. This diversity allows our community to grow strong and vibrant, with each culture contributing to the whole.

Eurobodalla Labor supports the appointment of a multicultural manager. Our non-European community is very small and segmented among many cultural groups. We need a qualified community worker who can provide advice and support to the council and people in the community.

Anthony Mayne / Karyn Starmer (The Mayne Team)

As deputy mayor at the time, I officially hosted the Eurobodalla, the parchment of the refugee reception area that toured the country in 2017. The tremendous event at Moruya Rotunda was also followed by Councilor James and Councilor Pat.

The MAYNE team would welcome refugees and asylum seekers in the County (we understand there are none currently). We are committed to both the recognition and the protection of human rights: Australia’s record in this regard is not good. Compassion is a core value of any society and diversity is the platform on which society must rely in order to thrive. With diversity must come tolerance. There is a part of the community that fears the differences between people and their beliefs. If the Mayne team can do anything to build tolerance, then we would.

Detention for an indefinite period is a cruel policy that must be ended.

Offshore processing outsources our responsibilities.

In principle, we support a part-time multicultural agent, but we have to be achievable. There would be a cost associated with this and given the likely hole in the Council’s finances, it would be an expense that would have to compete with other needs.

Mat Hatcher (Advance Eurobodalla)

I knew the Welcome Zone and I love knowing that we provide a haven of peace for people who want to improve their lives.

I am totally against indefinite detention. While I understand the need to secure our borders and follow proper protocol, we must always strive to help those less fortunate and welcome those fleeing terrible situations.

I am against the treatment abroad and clearly the cost it imposes on the country to continue. There are better ways. Although the local councils do not play a role in these decisions, know that my “moral compass” is against.

I absolutely believe that multicultural diversity builds better and stronger communities.

Yes, I would support a part-time multicultural agent and contacted Jan Frikken about a possible neighborhood center.

Rob pollock

Thanks for your questions. I believe most are well outside the jurisdiction of local government. However, I appreciate multiculturalism and the enormous contribution migrants have made and continue to make to Australia for its culture and economic development.

James thomson

I do not answer questionnaires but I am happy to say that I am in full sympathy with your cause. I think it’s a federal issue, but if he’s re-elected he’d be happy to discuss what lobbying we might do. I guess I think if you are not native, we all come from elsewhere often in difficult circumstances and everyone should be treated with respect and compassion.

This story Council candidates have a say in the county’s refugee issues first appeared on Bay Post-Moruya Examiner.
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