Rallying for refugees
PROTESTORS advocated for onshore processing of asylum seekers and refugees in front of Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker's office on Thursday.
Rural Australians for Refugees Group committee member John Pollock said the group wanted the Federal Government to implement more compassionate policies for asylum seekers and refugees by closing down the Manus Island and Nauru Detention Centres.
"We see it as our national responsibility to help these people out and not persecute them even more," John said.
"It's a worldwide situation and Australia's percentage of refugee intake is so tiny compared to what's happening in Europe and yet they're opening boarders."
The Greens Craig Christie said the party was calling on the Federal Government to process asylum seekers on-shore as a more cost effective and compassionate way to handle the crisis.
"We can do a lot better in Australia, we can be compassionate, we've done it in the past, we've had a lot of success with our previous waves of migrants and we should be doing the same now."
Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said the Federal Government was committed to supporting asylum seekers.
"I think we're doing more than our fair share of the heavy lifting by resettling 12,000 Syrian refugees which is over and above our traditional migrant intake."
He said the government's resettlement program was expected to cost around $700 million over forward estimates, excluding processing costs.
"It's a huge budgetary commitment," he said.
"It's very complex and there are language, housing, employment and health issues to be addressed."
He said he would support resettling a number of the refugees on the Coffs Coast.
"I think we can take our share and we have a history of successful resettlement programs," he said.
The group is protesting in front of Mr Hartsuyker's on the last Thursday of each month.