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Dear Gladys Berejiklian

Geoff Helisma|

Inclusive Clarence is a group of likeminded people who “have no tolerance for extremism, hate speech, racism or bigotry” that is “seeking to promote the benefits of increased migration to our area through a social cohesion forum in liaison with Multicultural NSW”.

Inclusive Clarence has written to Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

This is an edited version of the letter.

Inclusive Clarence is a loose affiliation of local groups and people sharing ideas and actions directed at improving our local community.

…After the Christchurch shootings, the people of the Clarence Valley of NSW came together in support of everyone affected by the massacre.

The Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton organised a special service where our representatives and spiritual leaders addressed the enormity of what had happened and our reaction. So many people attended, some had to stand.

…Our council started a book of condolences to the people of Christchurch, which was circulated within the Clarence Valley and our political and community leaders have helped show the entirety of who we, as local people, are.

The focus of the world’s media on our relatively small population (our biggest town is Grafton with a state suburb Census population of 10,408) was intense.

Our history as a region has been marred by events that extend from 19th century massacres to being the one time home of the Christchurch terrorist.

Those events are part of our story. We don’t deny them and we don’t seek to white wash them.

But they are not the whole story and we want the whole story to be known.

…Attached is a Declarative Statement signed by State and Federal MPs, Our Mayor and Councillors, Council’s General Manager, candidates for recent elections (across philosophical divides ranging from Fishers and Shooters to the Greens) local representatives and community leaders on behalf of their organisations.

The statement reflects our character and general outlook as local people in rural Australia.

We wish the sentiments applied to 100% of our population but remain encouraged that they apply to the overwhelming number of people living here.

…While Australia’s cities are groaning under the weight of ever-growing populations, we are trying to hold on to the population already here.

…Nearly half of our young people leave after the age of 18 in search of jobs and post-school study.

Phillip Belletty, Vice President of Grafton’s Chamber of Commerce, notes that the ideas propagated through Inclusive Clarence are convergent with: “The building of capacity, infrastructure, and opportunities outlined in the Chambers Future Ideas for Grafton.”

We gratefully acknowledge the support from Multicultural NSW in recent months. Their representatives came to the valley to ask if they could help.

We are seeking to promote the benefits of increased migration to our area through a social cohesion forum in liaison with Multicultural NSW.

It is hoped that doing so increases the likelihood of being included for consideration by State and Federal Governments as a destination for international migration.

We note the successes of Tamworth’s council in progressing their reputation as a regional hub for migrants and seek to do likewise.

We also note that Rathi Ramathan, in conjunction with Headspace, has arranged for Ali Kadri, a well-known campaigner for social cohesion, to speak on the similarities and common beliefs of all people as part of our local community’s celebration of World Peace Day on Saturday, September the 21st 2019.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this.

John Hagger

On behalf of Inclusive Clarence