WAGGA will forge ahead with plans to resettle up to 300 Syrian refugees, despite the brutal attacks on Paris, civic leaders say.
They have vowed the timing of the intake is as important as ever, urging the community not to succumb to fear.
While European countries had been conducting refugee screening, it was revealed at least one of the terrorists involved in the Friday night attacks used his Syrian refugee status to gain access to the country.
It has put renewed focus on the Australian Government’s security measures as the country prepares to welcome an additional 12,000 Syrian refugees on top of the normal humanitarian program.
Community groups will prepare for the bulk of potentially 300 Syrian refugees to arrive in Wagga commencing February next year. Some visas have already been granted.
Member for Riverina Michael McCormack on Monday distanced himself from his Nationals’ colleague, Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser, who called for the borders to be shut. Mr McCormack said the Riverina would continue to extend the olive branch.
“Just because we have seen these dreadful, horrific attacks by IS (Islamic State) does not mean we should abrogate our responsibilities,” he said. “We should not turn our backs now.”
Wagga mayor Rod Kendall said he had full faith in the government’s screening processes to identify radicalised individuals.
“We should be very careful about maligning all refugees,” he said.
While Wagga’s leaders remain committed to the Syrian resettlement program, reservations over the capacity of health and language services, and jobs, remain.
But Multicultural Council of Wagga manager Belinda Crain said the city was equipped to handle the intake.
She said some services would see increased staffing and pointed to job opportunities at the Teys abattoir.
“By and large, it’s business as usual for us,” Ms Crain said.
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