The Burdekin community has hit back at articles published on news.com.au about the fatal stabbing of two backpackers in Home Hill.
Burdekin Shire Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said she was extremely disappointed that news.com.au had chosen to focus on the negatives and showed a lack of insight into the community.
“This is sensationalism at its worst and shows the reporter has no personal respect for the people and businesses of the Burdekin,” she said.
“I believe this story is not true, because of all the wonderful comments we have received from the backpackers on site regarding the community support and care they have been given.
“In a card of thanks to the community the travellers at the Home Hill Backpackers called Home Hill a ‘home away from home’, ‘an amazing community’ and that the help they received ‘showed us how nice people can be’.”
Cr McLaughlin said this sort of publicity was not what the community needed to read at this tragic time.
“Our community and the backpackers have just been through a terribly sad time and are going through a healing process,” she said.
“This sort of report only impedes that healing and drags up unnecessary pain for all involved.
“We welcome backpackers to our region, not only for vital work they do for our farmers, but for the international flavour they add to our community.”
The Mayor has invited the reporter Candace Sutton to come to the Burdekin.
“I would invite her to come here, live here and experience firsthand the warm, supportive and caring community we have,” she said. “Then she may understand how hurt and disgusted we are at the denigrating and negative report she has published.”
Burdekin MP Dale Last has also slammed news.com.au on their latest story following the fatal stabbing of two backpackers in Home Hill two weeks ago.
“I am appalled by claims of cash for comment and sensationalism by some media outlets who have sought to exploit this horror from every angle,” Mr Last said.
“This type of gutter journalism is not only disrespectful to the grieving families and to the memories of those young lives lost, but it is also an insult to all those who have been affected by this terrible tragedy.”
“The Burdekin community – our farmers, businesses and friendly locals – have always welcomed backpackers and that’s why they return to work and enjoy life here.
“Everyone has been left shaken; we are all asking why did this happen in our small close-knit community?
“This is nothing but a hatchet job on Home Hill and the people who live and work there. This is a town whose people have opened their hearts and bent over backwards to help those affected by this tragedy and you won’t find a more welcoming community anywhere else in Queensland.
“As the local MP I’m proud to have the Home Hill community in my electorate and I stand shoulder to shoulder with community leaders in condemning news.com.au”
Home Hill Chamber of Commerce President Karen McKaig fully supported Cr McLaughlin’s and Mr Last’s comments.
“We welcome backpackers and appreciate the essential role they play in our community,” she said.