‘We Need To Do What We Can': Coalition MPs Back Baird's Refugee Pledge

06/09/2015 1:10 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Andrew Robb, Australia's trade and investment minister, speaks at the National Press Club in Canberra, Australia, on Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015. China has 'moved quickly' to devalue its currency, Robb told reporters in Canberra. Photographer: Mark Graham/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Several Coalition MPs have backed Mike Baird’s emotional pledge to help asylum seekers after the NSW Premier was moved to comment on Europe’s refugee crisis.

In a candid Facebook post uploaded on Saturday, Baird revealed he was “sick with overwhelming sorrow” and “despair” upon seeing the image of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying lifeless on a Turkish beach.

The horrifying picture of the dead Syrian toddler captured the globe’s attention and brought the European refugee crisis into harrowing focus, prompting Baird to remark: “Stopping the boats can’t be where this ends.”

Federal Trade Minister, Andrew Robb, said on Sunday morning that he would “absolutely support” increasing Australia’s intake of refugees.

The government last year expanded the number of visas granted to Syrian refugees within a humanitarian visa program capped at 13,750 places annually.

Immigration Department figures show more than 2,200 offshore Humanitarian visas were granted to Syrians in 2014–15. In addition, the government has committed to accept at least 4,500 Syrians in total over the next three years.

“That [figure] has been under review and we haven’t made a final decision -- but I would suspect, given the circumstances we’ll look very favourably at that and I personally think I’ll support that, absolutely -- and we should,” Robb told ABC’s Insiders program.

“We’ve had a reputation as a country for over 60 years as one of only three countries in the world that in an uninterrupted sense has brought in a significant numbers of refugees.

“We’ve always been, I think -- in both sides of politics -- we have recognised that we are blessed as a country and that we need to do what we can do,” he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said on Sunday, after “a very long discussion” with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, that the Government would do what it could.

"If we can make Syria and Iraq more peaceful and more stable then the reason for people leaving will not be there and there won't be the level of displacement that we're seeing today,” she told the ABC.

"We have already announced an increase to 18,750 places and we will continue to work with our international partners and organisations to see what more we can do."

Robb echoed that of fellow politicians Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce and Liberal backbencher Craig Laundy, who've called for more Syrian refugees to be resettled in Australia.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has also expressed his views saying he believes we can do more than what we currently are for the refugees when speaking to ABC News on Sunday.

He proposed doubling Australia’s refugee intake over the next few years.

Relieved migrants and refugees arrived in the German town of Munich overnight after long journeys on foot, there are thousands however, still enroute.

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