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The Government and Opposition promise to help Syrian refugees, but can't agree on how this should be done -

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EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: It was a powerful image that's resonated around the world: the body of a little Syrian boy washed ashore on a Turkish beach, drowned while trying to seek refuge.

The tragic fate of toddler Aylan Kurdi and what's being called the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War has led to an outbreak of compassion in the Federal Parliament.

Both sides of politics are pledging to open the doors to Syrian refugees, but the Government and the Opposition are divided on the best way to do it. The Government has pledged to increase aid, but won't put a number yet on the asylum seekers it'll accept from Syria.

From Canberra, Lateline's Jason Om reports.

JASON OM, REPORTER: Journey's end for hundreds of Syrian refugees. They've crossed the Mediterranean Sea and been stalled in Hungary. Now, they've reached Germany.

The asylum seekers' plight has moved Australian politicians in Canberra.

BILL SHORTEN, OPPOSITION LEADER: Words of sympathy are not enough. Surely we can see that our compassion demands action.

TONY ABBOTT, PRIME MINISTER: It is a very serious crisis. I also agree with the Leader of the Opposition that all of us were moved to tears by that poignant image of the drowned child on a beach in Turkey.

JASON OM: The Government and Opposition can agree on the sentiment, but not on the detail.

BILL SHORTEN: 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.

JASON OM: Labor says the crisis demands $100 million in aid and 10,000 extra humanitarian places for the Syrian refugees. That's on top of the more than 13,000 places this year.

RICHARD MARLES, OPP. IMMIGRATION SPOKESMAN: The proposition that we are putting forward are permanent places. That is gonna reflect the reality of what we're actually talking about.

JASON OM: The Prime Minister has signalled that any increase of Syrians will be within the existing humanitarian limits amid an internal push for the Government to do more.

JOURNALIST: Will you be taking that message to the Prime Minister tonight?

CRAIG LAUNDY, LIBERAL BACKBENCHER: Ah, I have taken that message repeatedly over the last three or four days and I won't be - I won't stop taking that message.

JASON OM: A safe haven response could be in the offing like the one in 1999 which saved thousands of Kosovars. 4,000 were given temporary visas with the expectation of being returned home.

This time, the final response will rely on the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who's taking advice from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva.

PETER DUTTON, IMMIGRATION MINISTER: Australians are prepared to do more and the Australian Government is prepared to do more. We want to make sure that we can build on the numbers that we've already provided safe haven to and the Federal Government if very keen to work with the United Nations to see what further assistance we can provide.

TONY ABBOTT: It is my intention to listen to the minister, to see what advice he has received from the people on the spot, to weigh the advice that he has received from the experts who are already grappling with this crisis.

JASON OM: Around Australia tonight, refugee advocates have amassed to show their compassion.

As the Government prepares to accept the refugees flowing out of Syria, it's considering whether to fly into Syrian airspace and bomb IS targets. The National Security Committee of Cabinet is meeting tomorrow and expected to give the go-ahead on expanding the air war from Iraq to Syria.

The six RAAF fighter jets already in Iraq are likely to be stretched and one former Army officer says the Government needs to justify why Australia should be involved in Syria.

RODGER SHANAHAN, LOWY INSTITUTE: From what we've heard, the Defence Minister says that the main effort is still going to be Iraq, so, on the face of it, six aircraft with the main effort gonna be in Iraq doesn't really leave much left over to strike targets in Syria. So, I don't think it's gonna have much material effect at all.

JASON OM: Roger Shanahan also says the Gulf states need to be doing more to help resettle the Syrians.

RODGER SHANAHAN: We have the Gulf states with enormous wealth, with an enormous number of expatriate workers, who haven't resettled any Syrian refugees. I think there needs to be international pressure on the Gulf states to start accepting Syrians to resettle them.

JASON OM: Germany is bearing a huge part of Europe's response. It's agreed to free up $9.5 billion to deal with the crisis.