Greens Want To 'Create A Safe Way For People' To Seek Asylum

16/04/2016 11:54 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 12: Leader of the parliamentary caucus of the Australian Greens Richard Di Natale delivers a speech during a demonstration to protest accepting so few Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Melbourne, Australia on September 12, 2015. (Photo by Recep Sakar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Greens have pledged to boost Australia's refugee intake to record levels and close offshore detention centres as part of a "bold plan" to overhaul the nation's asylum seeker system.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the party would take to the federal election a proposal to accept 50,000 asylum seekers each year and shut down the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres.

Under the plan, Australia would take 40,000 people in an humanitarian intake and 10,000 under a new 'Skilled Refugee' program in a bid to "create a safe way for people in our region to seek asylum in Australia".

"Australia doesn't need to respond to people seeking our protection by turning our backs or locking them up -- there is a better way,” Di Natale said.

“Today the Greens are announcing a vision that would welcome a record number of people to live in safety in our community every year and recognise the contribution refugees have made to this country over generations and will continue to make."

He said the Greens were the only major party to have a plan that treated asylum seekers with dignity.

"It is a great privilege to be the only party in the federal parliament that is offering a different way, a better way, towards the treatment of people seeking refuge and asylum," Di Natale told reporters in Melbourne.

The plan would save $160 million over the next 4 years, the Greens said.

The left-wing party said the 10,000 'Skilled Refugee' places would help both to save lives and allow those entering the country to contribute to the economy.

"People want to protect their families and to give their children access to an education and a life free of violence. We should be allowing them to get on and do that in Australia," Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

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