Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson and councillors Fran Mann, Ross Gee and Laurence Bonaventura sign the pledge to welcome refugees.
Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson and councillors Fran Mann, Ross Gee and Laurence Bonaventura sign the pledge to welcome refugees. Troy Kippen

Move on Mayor tells 'redneck' opposition

CRITICISM over a pledge to make Mackay a Refugee Welcome Zone is "outrageous", Mayor Greg Williamson has said.

In the 24 hours to the Amnesty International-inspired pledge to welcome refugees to Mackay, councillors and the Mayor have received abusive messages from people opposed to the pledge. An angry Cr Williamson lashed out at critics before the official signing of the document late Wednesday.

"There are some rednecks in our society who have to get over the fact that this is truly a multicultural area that we live in and we should be proud of it," he said.

"Maybe they should move somewhere else."

He said in signing the declaration, "We agree to show compassion and uphold the human rights of refugees and enhance the cultural diversity in our community. There is no financial commitment ... no building of houses. So the nonsense we have seen in the last 24 hours is just outrageous."

Councillor Laurence Bonaventura was at the ceremony and signed the document with councillors.

"I never knew the difference between nationalities as I was growing up," he said. "As an Italian living in the small community of Habana, we relied on South Sea Islanders to cut our cane. Our neighbours were Maltese or Russian... there were Irish priests of the Catholic church. It wasn't until I turned 18 did I realise that some of these things weren't as widely accepted as I thought."

In the past five years Mackay has welcomed new citizens from 79 different nations, and last night a citizenship ceremony welcomed 18 people from nine countries.


Hot-button issue has Queenslanders fuming

Premium Content Hot-button issue has Queenslanders fuming

Voters united in concerns over youth crime

Election debates to be livestreamed for voters

Election debates to be livestreamed for voters

Mackay, Whitsunday, Mirani and Burdekin candidates for the October state election...

Call for action on killer disease striking at our heart

Premium Content Call for action on killer disease striking at our heart

The Mackay-Isaac-Whitsundays is among the 10 worst hot spots. Here’s what we can do...