LEICHHARDT MP Warren Entsch says he is pleased with the Government’s decision today to resettle an additional 12,000 refugees who are fleeing the turmoil in Syria and Iraq.
The boost in numbers will be in addition to the existing humanitarian programme of 13,750, which rises to 18,750 in 2018-19, and comes after Immigration Minister Peter Dutton briefed colleagues in the Coalition Party Room this morning after his return from discussions in Geneva.
“This is a good outcome and a broad response, which I think is necessary,” Mr Entsch said. “I know there are people out there who have been calling for a greater number of refugees to be allowed into Australia, but that in itself isn’t going to fix the problem.
“With this move, we’re focusing on the most vulnerable women, children and families from the minorities that have been most targeted. Let’s get them out of the camp system and give them an opportunity in Australia.
“We also have to recognise that this will be at a significant cost to the Australian budget about $600m in that area alone. Therefore this needs to be seen as a financial contribution.”
Mr Entsch said that those chosen to resettle in Australia will undergo normal security, health and character checks before receiving permanent protection.
He added that they would be welcome to settle in Far North Queensland, as the region had benefited from the contribution of migrants over a long period of time.
“A lot of people will come over bringing their own skill sets and they would be welcomed into regional and remote communities, if they choose to stay there,” he said.
Australia will also support the delivery of much-needed food, water, healthcare, education, emergency supplies and protection – including support for women and girls – to more than 240,000 Syrian and Iraqi people who have been forced to flee their homes. This is expected to cost $44 million, and will bring Australia’s contribution to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq to around $230 million since 2011.
“Importantly, for the small number of people we bring to Australia, there are millions outside the conflict area who need a whole range of humanitarian supports,” Mr Entsch said.
“As we saw during the Kosovo conflict, sometimes it’s better to keep people in a safe area that is close to their home country, but away from the conflict, and provide them with their food, accommodation, health and education needs until such time as they can return home.”
In addition, the Government has decided to extend Australia’s air strikes against Daesh into Syria, joining a number of other nations including the United States, Canada, Arab countries and Turkey which are already contributing to the effort against Daesh in Syria.
“By allowing air strikes into Syria, it opens up the opportunity to be able to target individuals where they can’t slip across the border where they’re safe. The sooner we remove these individuals who are driving this conflict, the sooner people can go home.”
Mr Entsch also said it was time for the Arab states that are not involved with this conflict to start offering financial support and refuge for people fleeing their homes.
“Many of these states are incredibly wealthy and they need to contribute the refugee crisis is not just a responsibility for Europe and Australia,” he said.
As the Government has stated before, the size and nature of Australia’s overall commitment to defeat Daesh will remain under regular review.