How do we take action on this humanitarian crisis? 549



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Last night Q&A took on the huge humanitarian crisis that is igniting passionate debate across the world. As more and more countries open their arms to refugees, it’s becoming abundantly clear that Australia needs to do something, and fast.

Before the show, on ABC’s 7.30, Liberal backbencher Ewan Jones called for the Coalition to accept up to 50,000 refugees per year, around triple what we are currently taking.

This follows on from Labor’s calls to do a one-off increase following Syrian conflict and increased media coverage around our potential involvement in air strikes.

“I think if we’re going to play in that space we should have a significant number, somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 people,” he told 7.30.

“This is something that we could do effectively and we could absorb relatively quickly into our country”.

Mr Jones said his Queensland electorate would be willing to take asylum seekers.

He said there had been a change in his Queensland electorate and the general community after images emerged of a drowned Syrian boy last week.

“You forget how light children are. You forget how small they are as they grow, and it’s one of the things, as you saw this poor lifeless little tot, that really does chill you straight through,” Mr Jones said.

The PM has said he would do more to help those fleeing Syria however clarified later that the number of Syrians would be included in our usual refugee quota.

Mr Abbott told Parliament yesterday the Government’s intention was to take a “significant number of people from Syria this year”.


Appearing on Monday night’s Q&A, NSW Premier Mike Baird questioned whether even 10,000 more refugees (Labor’s suggestion) would be enough.

“How do you know it’s just 10,000? How do you know it shouldn’t be more?” he said.

“It is very easy and very simple to put a number to, but what can we actually do, and can we do more than that?

“Who is to say we can’t do more?”

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, who also appeared Q&A, said the number was fair.

“We’ve said 10,000 is our suggestion as a proportionate response from Australia,” he said.

“We can do it very quickly and we can increase the intake and not make other people suffer”.


Perhaps a John Howard-era solution is best, suggested Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg – John Howard accepted 4,000 Kosovars in the late 1990s on humanitarian visas, though these people had to go home after three months. Is that a solution or a quick fix?


Mr Jones went on to say, “Make no mistake about it. This is going to be a generation’s work and more than a generation’s work”.

“I think what you’re seeing here is an incredibly difficult time”.


We want to know your thoughts today: should Australia be doing more to help refugees? How many more should we take in?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Take in some of those poor blighters. We are so fortunate here – and spoiled. Abbott needs a kick in the rear.

    6 REPLY
    • Oh Dawn. What makes you so irritable? No need to be so confrontational . Who says I am Labor btw. I just think Abbotts lagging humanitarian behaviour is, sadly, not that of a leader. Next?

    • Dawn Bruce -Typical Liberal supporter- doesn’t give a stuff about anything or any one except their own hip pocket. Both statements are obviously confrontational, far too general and don’t help in any way to find a solution to the problem.

      1 REPLY
      • Margaret would you willing pay an extra tax to pay for your generous ideas,
        The solution to the Syrian problem is for all the EU countries to demand a cease fire in Syria, collectively the military assets of the EU countries is big enough to demand and enforce a cease fire. This is a European problem they need to fix it, they have the ability all they need is the will.

    • Wonder how you will fell when you reach pension age and get told there’s no money left to help you cos Ito was spent on helping the 50,000 refugees.

    • That is a bit over the top Noreen. Who says I am not pension age now. Who says there will be 50,000 refugees coming. I guess by your comments you think we should not be lending a helping hand to those in need. Your ancestors reached these shores for a new life once. They made a new life. So can a few other people.

  2. I saw many figures being bandied about last night, someone suggest that we take 30 to 50,000. I have no idea how many Australia. can comfortably absorb, but doing nothing should not be an option. The people are left without a country, not only because of Isis but because of Allied bombing. It may take many many years if ever, that they can return to Syria again

    1 REPLY
  3. Yes we should take them and not just Syrian all the other desperate refugees who are escaping hours we can not even imagine. Take them out of detention where women and children are being abused…have we suddenly forgotten about these?

    8 REPLY
    • good idea, take the whole world’s refugees. After a few years, we could start having civil wars, and good stuff like, marshall law. That should liven the place up abit.

    • What a lot of NIMBIES you are. These people are regular human beings with a heart…unlike some of you.

    • i was not implying we should take them all, who’d 0f thought that? But more than we do currently….

    • The age and gender of the majority of these so called refugees makes me suspicious. There are a helluva lot of women and kids being left behind in the villages they are fleeing from.

    • where were all of you do gooders when Somalia went down the tube…or Rhawanda…..are you all prepared to donate money out of your paypackets every week to support them ?? or are you all talk and no action..

  4. We are blessed to call Australia home, and those of us born here just plain lucky. We need to do our bit – increase the numbers we take in, and also look at other ways we can help. I don’t like putting numbers on these things, we need to help wherever we can.

    2 REPLY
    • Charity begins at home. Lets sought our ‘bankruptcy’ and welfare problems first. Adding these refugees who will never integrate is an added recipe for destruction of Australia the ‘lucky country’.

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      • Given the present situation re ice and homeless and/or neglected children recently reported in Mt Isa (and I am sure in many other places in Australia), perhaps we should start at home?
        If we hadn’t been supplying arms first place this might have died out years ago.
        I have read in OS papers that now people are converting to Christianity to get to the top of the refugee list. And it isn’t all happy families in Germany – there are parts of the country where they are burning down the houses allocated to refugees.

        1 REPLY
        • I agree with you completely, fix our own before we offer free everything to outsiders, and yes I also follow what is going on overseas talk about biting the hand that feeds you! Ah but the media here don’t want to report what is really going on……non so blind as those that will not see, Isis has already said they have 15,000 already spread throughout Europe ……those that have gone into Europe posing as ‘refugees’ ……what the EU has done is the same as Labour did here with opening our boarders only on catistophic scale!!

      • Jaya there is no reason other than our own racism that these people wouldn’t integrate. Reading some of the comments here, who on earth would want to be friendly with them? Not me!

        Australians have created the problems by making these people feel unwelcome. No wonder some of the Muslim youth feel isolated, unaccepted, and become radicalised. We create our own problems. These people could be a great asset to Australia, if only we would let them. Look at how well refugee children do at school. They could well RAISE our standard of living in another generation. Interfering in other countries, warmongering, created ISIS and created the refugee problem in the first instance. I’m sure they’d far rather have been able to stay in their own homes.

  5. I really don’t know if anyone could put a figure on these poor people’s lives, yes of course we should take as many as we can possibly absorb however we also have to be sure they are all refugees, as we really don’t know if there is anyone trying to slip into the Country to cause harm to Australia and it’s communities, we also need to make sure that EVERY STATE AND TERRITORY share equally the housing of these people so that it doesn’t burden any 1 State or Territory.

    1 REPLY
    • We’ll make sure you don’t ask them where they want to go then, or we might get the same result as is happening in Europe where they insist in going to Germany and any other help is thrown in their faces

  6. And what about the Syrians we have locked up indefinitely in Nauru and Manus Island in shocking conditions. Can we start seeing them as human now?

  7. Is the Government finding it hard to achieve everything they need too now….are they having problems with the Welfare system, the Health system, the Education system, the Pension system etc, etc, etc… 10,000-50,000 more people are not going to be a bigger burden on us. There are no jobs for us, houses are an issue to us, rents for us are so high now, childcare is an issue etc, etc, etc. so please tell me HOW are we going to bring these people here and place them without a problem being inflicted on us.

    2 REPLY
    • My thought tooJudith. I feel very sorry for the refugees but what about people who have been on the public housing list for years. Do they go to the back of the line?

    • I agree. Charity begins at home. There is more on the agenda with this invasion force than meets the eye. We need to look deeper, much deeper.

  8. Australia is a big country, we can take more than 10,000. Germany is taking 800,000 , they are good global citizens and so should we be

    7 REPLY
    • True Merran. This is exactly what I thought when I heard what Germany was doing…..trying to expunge some of their guilt; not that it is the fault of the current government what Hitler did, but it is part of their history which will always remain with them.

    • The way I feel guilt or not at least they are doing something now, it may be atonment but those homless and stateless people don’t care, they just want refuge

    • We need 10,00 families prepared to take one in as most seem to be young men.. It would save the logistic nightmare of finding water, meals, a bed and accommadation for them. At least in the short term..

    • they could open the gates of these unused dentention centers and house them there, to go about freely as they wish

    • David James I heard Germany is an extremely wealthy country, there welfare is fantastic, Thats why these people are passing through 5 & 6 countries to get there.

    • yes Dawn Bruce
      Germany is wealthy but I would suggest they are heading there because The Germans will accept 800,000 of them, that would be a big incentive

  9. Yes we should take more, but I don’t know the number, SA says the Inverbracky centre in the Adelaide Hills could be reopened. Other states have to consider what they can absorb. I think we should still take other refugees as well Think of the money we could save by closing the off shore detention centres and bringing those poor souls to Australia and not pay ludicrous sums of money to other countries to take the refugees. If we gave this money instead to the UN Refugee Agencies they could feed thousands.

    8 REPLY
    • William I am staggered at the massive amount of money we are paying to keep a relatively few people in off shore detention centres and the amounts we have paid to resettle a handful of people in other countries. If there are some who are not genuine refugees it would cost far less to have them in detention in Australia until they can be deported. Remember too many of us self funded retirees are tax payers too.

    • The trouble is that they are never happy in detention centres and we end up with riots and property destruction. Everybody is moved by this tragedy but not many are in a position to pay more to assist huge numbers. It needs a global effort to fix the problems in their homelands. This will cost millions, possibly billions and Labor will blame the Abbott government for the budget situation.

    • I’m not sure that William wasn’t just being sarcastic , suggesting tax payers should be taxed for to fund it .
      I read it as a sarcastic comment , and had a chuckle ,

    • In my opinion the UN are a waste of time,I don’t believe that they have ever had a successful resolution to anything.

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