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Tuesday, 8 September 2015
Page: 9431

Asylum Seekers


Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (14:07): My question is to the Prime Minister. Between 2011 and 2013 Australia provided around $100 million towards the Syrian humanitarian relief effort. Between 2014 and 2015 Australia provided around $55 million. Prime Minister, why has Australia's support decreased as this crisis has worsened? And will the government support Labor's call for an urgent $100 million to assist Syrians and Iraqis caught in this terrible conflict?

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my right will cease interjecting. I could not hear the second part of the question. I am going to ask the member for Sydney to repeat the question.

Ms PLIBERSEK: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Between 2011 and 2013 Australia provided around $100 million towards the Syrian humanitarian relief effort. Between 2014 and 2015 Australia provided around $55 million. Prime Minister, why has Australia's support decreased as this crisis has worsened? And will the government support Labor's call for an urgent, additional $100 million to assist Syrians and Iraqis caught in this terrible conflict?




Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:08): I know the shadow minister for foreign affairs is desperate to play politics here, but I am going to resist that temptation. I am going to stick to the facts. In the last year when members opposite were in government just 98 people were taken from this particular conflict. Just 98 people from Syria entered this country in the last year that members opposite were in government.

Mr Dreyfus: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The question was directly about aid and the Prime Minister's answer should be directed at that: direct relevance.

The SPEAKER: The Prime Minister is relevant to the answer.

Mr ABBOTT: Mr Speaker, this is not political; this is simply a fact that, in the last full year when members opposite were in charge, they took just 98 people from the Syrian conflict. In the first full year we took 1,000 and in the second full year, the last financial year, we took 2,230 people from the Syrian conflict.

Mr Dreyfus interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs will cease interjecting.

Ms Plibersek interjecting

Mr ABBOTT: She is yelling and shouting. Let me give her the facts, because I am about to concede that yes, members opposite were not much interested in taking people who were in trouble because of this crisis. But they certainly did provide some money; I accept that. They did provide money to the various agencies. Good on them. It was a considerable amount of money and it was certainly done with the support of this coalition when we were in opposition.

I can inform the member who asked the question that, over the last 12 months, this government has provided, all up, some $100 million in humanitarian assistance to the Middle East, mostly to agencies dealing with Syria but also to some agencies dealing with Iraq and other parts of that troubled region. This is a serious issue. I assume—

Ms Plibersek interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Sydney will cease interjecting. The Prime Minister has the call.

Mr ABBOTT: I say again: this is a government which is serious about doing more. We are very serious about doing more. We will do more in terms of taking people from this conflict, we will do more in terms of providing resources to people dealing with this conflict and we will do more in terms of tackling this conflict at its source. And the source is the fact that people in this troubled country are caught between the mass executions of the death cult and the chemical weapons of the Assad regime. We will do more. It will be a decent and a compassionate response, but it will also be a strong response because that is what people expect from a decent country like Australia.