CANBERRA – The Prime Minister has reaffirmed the "critical" need for strict border policies as he used an address at the United Nations in New York to announce an extra $130 million in aid and making permanent a previous announcement of 5,000 more places in Australia's annual humanitarian refugee intake.
Addressing the global refugee crisis, in a special UN summit convened by U.S President Barack Obama, Malcolm Turnbull pledged to permanently raise the annual humanitarian refugee target from 13,750 to 18,750 places from mid-2018, in addition to the one off intake of 12,000 refugees from war torn Syria and Iraq.
"I'm pleased to announce that Australia's planned increase to almost 19,000 places from mid 2018 will be maintained at this level" pic.twitter.com/dpV8N8mb9E
— Rashida Yosufzai (@Rashidajourno) September 20, 2016
Australia's annual refugee intake was increased by the previous Prime Minister Tony Abbott, but Mr Turnbull has used his appearance in New York to make the commitment permanent.
Australia's humanitarian refugee program will also now include a component of Central American refugees currently housed in camps in Costa Rica.
Turnbull told the summit the refugee crisis -- in which an estimated 63 million forcibly displaced people are on the move -- is "complex" and requires a "full spectrum of responses".
"As leaders we're responsible for helping those who are most vulnerable and restoring the integrity of migration systems," he said.
"Australia's approach is to be both principled and pragmatic.
"Our strategy addresses all parts of the problem, employing strong border protection policies, a very tough stance on people smugglers, while tackling the causes of displacement with a generous and compassionate resettlement program supporting refugees in our communities."
— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) September 20, 2016
Malcolm Turnbull's announcement has left the aid and development agency Oxfam underwhelmed.
"Tony Abbott announced this increase from 13,750 to 18,750 refugees and migrants just over a year ago, all Prime Minister Turnbull has done is made the commitment permanent," Oxfam Australia's Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said.
"It is a step in the right direction but not a new announcement," Dr Szoke said.
In addition to the new permanent refugee places, the Prime Minister has announced $130 million over three years for migration agencies to aid displaced people in host countries.
"This multi-year commitment will give certainty to facilitate longer term planning," he said.
Turnbull and the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton have been talking up Australia's strict border control policies during Leaders' Week at the United Nations.
The Prime Minister said the strict Australian model is setting an example and is "absolutely critical".
"Strong borders are not just about security," Turnbull said. "They are crucial to ensuring social harmony and public support for migration domestically.
"Now Australia is a prime example, securing our borders has increased public confidence and enabled Australia to have one of the most generous humanitarian systems."