REFUGEE DEBATE: South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann said he hoped for a different answer.
REFUGEE DEBATE: South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann said he hoped for a different answer. Contributed

Refugee debate turns sour in the South Burnett

OUR state will soon welcome 12,000 Syrian refugees, but the South Burnett won't house one.

When South Burnett Regional Council Mayor Wayne Kratzmann asked people if they were happy to resettle Syrian refugees, the resounding response was "no".

However, he said the negativity did not stop there.

"I understand people get very emotional about it, but some of the comments were just crazy," Cr Kratzmann said.

He said it was important to debate the issue but the debate very quickly turned sour.

"As a person, it made me feel very disappointed, but as the Mayor, it didn't surprise me at all."

Of the 700 responses from people of the South Burnett, Cr Kratzmann said the response was a "pretty clear-cut no".

Cr Kratzmann feared people overestimated the impact refugees would have to the area.

"People thought it would mean a refugee camp outside Kingaroy, but that was never going to be the case," he said.

"On a pro rata basis we would probably only get two families." 

Cr Kratzmann said he had hoped the responses would be different.

"Sometimes we need to have a look outside our own backyard at the world stage," he said.

"These refugees aren't escaping Syria because they want to leave. They're escaping because they have to leave."

"If people aren't prepared to help them, I find that pretty disappointing."

If the answer to resettling refugees in the South Burnett had been yes, Cr Kratzmann said he would have taken a very hands-on approach.

"I would have picked them up from the airport in my own car myself," he said.

Although he was disappointed, Cr Kratzmann said it was important to respect the opinion of South Burnett people.

"We asked for feedback, and that's what we got," he said.