Monto may house illegal immigrants

IT'S A long way from East Timor, but some Monto residents are hoping Prime Minister Julia Gillard will consider their town as an alternative location for processing illegal immigrants.

Monto Ratepayers and Residents Association (MRRA) president Lex Dow said a subcommittee was formed recently to investigate the possibility of housing the illegitimate visitors while their paperwork was processed.

“It's not just about boat people — there are tens of thousands of backpackers with expired visas, so we thought we could take some of the pressure off the processing facilities by handling those people in Monto,” Mr Dow said.

A proposal has been sent to Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Senator Chris Evans through Member for Flynn Chris Trevor.

While Mr Dow admitted it was early days for the proposal, he said an immigrant processing centre could prove a windfall for the region.

“We came to the idea because it would create jobs for Monto,” he said.

“There are dozens of empty houses in town to accommodate the staff, and the capacity of the school and hospital are both underutilised.”

North Burnett Mayor Joy Jensen said the council supported the association's proposal because it would create jobs and bring allied services to the region.

“We've expressed interest with the correct authorities,” she said.

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