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Migrant crisis: Prime Minister under pressure to take more Syrian refugees -

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MARK COLVIN: The pressure is growing on the Federal Government for a significant boost to the number of refugee places it offers.

State Governments are offering to accept more Syrian refugees and are suggesting they could be housed in now unused immigration detention facilities.

So far the Government says it will take more Syrians but it will not increase the total number of refugees it takes.

The Greens argue that's not good enough and Australia should accept an extra 20,000 people, Labor is pushing for a one-off increase of 10,000 refugees.

Political correspondent Louise Yaxley reports.

LOUISE YAXLEY: The Prime Minister told Parliament the Government will do more.

TONY ABBOTT: I can inform the house that it is the Government's firm intention to take a significant number of people from Syria this year. We will give people refuge. That is the firm intention of this Government.

The women and children in camps, in particular the women and children from persecuted minorities in camps, they deserve a compassionate response from Australia, and that is exactly what they will get from this Government. And there will be more money, because we must assist the UN high commissioner for refugees to do its job as well as can be done in these very difficult circumstances.

LOUISE YAXLEY: But by doing more, Mr Abbott means increasing the proportion of Syrians accepted within the existing quota.

The Labor leader Bill Shorten says that's simply not good enough, and the Greens' Richard Di Natale is scathing.

RICHARD DI NATALE: Tony Abbott's announcement doesn't create one additional refugee place in Australia, not one additional refugee will be settled as a result of the announcement from Tony Abbott.

LOUISE YAXLEY: Mr Shorten says Australia should accept 10,000 more people.

BILL SHORTEN: For a one-off increase in our humanitarian intake of refugees, from 13,750, for an additional 10,000 refugees caught up in a conflict not of their making, and indeed, they are part of the greatest peace-time refugee crisis that the world has seen since the conclusion of the Second World War.

Labor believes it isn't good enough for the Government or Mr Abbott to simply say that they will take more refugees, but from within the existing level of refugees scheduled to be taken by this country.

LOUISE YAXLEY: Senator Di Natale says it should be twice as many as Labor wants.

RICHARD DI NATALE: What we should be doing immediately is stepping up to the plate and doing what so many agencies right around the world have called on Australia to do - we've now got UNICEF, we've got Amnesty, we've got the UNHCR - all calling for an immediate intake of 20,000 refugees in Syria, and yet Tony Abbott says not one more refugee will be settled in Australia.

LOUISE YAXLEY: Mr Abbott says the Government will have more to say after the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, holds meetings in Geneva with the organisations managing the crisis.

TONY ABBOTT: I think it is important that we hear his report, and that is what I hope to do overnight before we start to finalise a response.

And I say that any response that we do finalise in the next 24 or 48 hours may in fact need to be further revised as this particular crisis unfolds.

LOUISE YAXLEY: But the response is expected to be focused on extra funding for the aid groups, rather than more people. Labor wants the spending lifted by $100 million. The Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says the Government's already generous, but is looking to spend more.

JULIE BISHOP: We are considering a further contribution to the humanitarian assistance, already our $156 million is one of the lead contributions.

LOUISE YAXLEY: Today the Prime Minister's given the strongest indication yet that Australia will be extending its military campaign across the Syrian border.

TONY ABBOTT: Should we choose, Mr Speaker, to extend our airstrikes into Syria, we will be doing this in the collective self-defence of Iraq. We would be doing this out of a responsibility to protect innocent people at risk of horrible death from the most violent people imaginable, we would be doing this in defence of our own country. We would be doing this in defence of our own country, because this Government, all governments, this Parliament, all parliaments, have a responsibility to keep our country safe.

LOUISE YAXLEY: The Greens Senator Richard Di Natale says that will make the Syrian situation worse.

RICHARD DI NATALE: The notion that it's somehow strong to drop bombs on young people, kids and families, from an enormous height, and that somehow that is going to improve the situation in Syria - that's not strength, that is in fact a man who shows himself to be devoid of any ideas.

MARK COLVIN: The Greens leader Richard Di Natale ending that report from Louise Yaxley.