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Afghans saving Aussie bacon

By Greg Barns - posted Wednesday, 15 May 2002

The country town of Young nearly lost its major business recently – the sheep and lamb processor Burrangong Meats.

But the operation is again booming thanks to 90 Afghan refugees who have taken jobs there.

Apparently the Afghans Burrangong employs came to the New South Wales town when the company approached the employment agency of the charity Mission Australia. Burrangong was desperate to get staff and was heading into a financial brick wall unless it could find them.


Mission Australia provided the answer to the company's prayers when it placed the 90 Afghans at the meatworks nine months ago.

Since then, the community in Young and the company's managing director, Tony Hewson, have learned to admire and respect these unexpected arrivals.

According to Mr Hewson, they are incredibly hard-working and very dedicated.

They have integrated into the town and many of Young's small businesses are helping the workers with furniture, white goods and education classes.

The Burrangong story is hard evidence of the fact that regional Australia and states with declining population such as Tasmania and South Australia, could benefit substantially if we allowed more asylum seekers to stay in our country.

Instead of locking them up for two or three years behind razor wire and then looking for other countries to take them once they are released, why aren't we processing their cases quickly and allowing them to help those parts of Australia that are in economic, cultural and social decline?


Australia is facing rapid population shrinkage. In Tasmania, the median age is now 38.8 and in South Australia it is 38.4. In 13 years our national population will begin declining.

Population growth is negative in 21 of 48 local government divisions in regional Victoria.

The result of these trends is evident for all of us to see in regional Australia – bank closures, hospitals and schools disappearing and community spirit broken.

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About the Author

Greg Barns is National President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

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