MEMBER for Mallee Andrew Broad has joined a bi-partisan effort to increase Australia’s sponsored refugee intake and has pointed to Nhill as an example.
Labor Member for Gellibrand Tim Watts moved a motion on Monday that governments, businesses and community organisations explore ways to use private sponsorship to expand resettlement.
Mr Broad was one of two Coalition members who spoke in favour of the motion and used Nhill’s Karen people as a successful example.
“Nhill could not get people to work in Luv-a-Duck to expand their workforce. The kindergarten was nearly shut down and the school was not full,” Mr Broad said in Parliament.
“A guy by the name of John Millington, who was a compassionate man, with the assistance of his wife, began to look at how we could sponsor and bring refugees in to fill a labour force.
“It changed the culture of the town and opened the hearts of the people in the town.”
Mr Broad said he wanted to see the sponsored program expanded from 1000 to 10,000 people.
“I think you match it up with demand and when you have got people settled and in employment you move on to the next and then gradually increase the numbers,” he said.
The federal government has cracked down on foreign workers and demanded asylum seekers prove they are not ‘fake refugees’ by October.
Mr Broad said an increase in sponsored refugee intake was not contrary to a hardline approach to border security. Nhill took in 160 Karen refugees from 2009 to 2014 and the community now has more than 200.
Mr Broad told Parliament Nhill’s success had helped the Karen people escape persecution in refugee camps along the Thailand-Myanmar border and also helped the economy.
“A recent report shows it has also contributed $41 million to the economic activity of a town of about 3,000 people,” he said.
“The school is now full and the kindergarten is now full. It is very hard to find a house, and in fact there are new houses being built in this town.”