Now that the lethal practice of people smuggling has been stopped, I’ve been wondering why Australia cannot increase its humanitarian intake.

Australia accepts 13,700 refugees per year. There are a staggering 51 million displaced people in the world.

There are now hundreds of thousands more - mainly Christians, Yazidis and Shia - thanks to ISIS brutality.

At the Coalition’s campaign launch just over a year ago, Tony Abbott said: “And we won't increase the humanitarian migrant intake until such time as it's no longer being filled by people smugglers.”

That’s fair enough but the Government’s policies have worked. After 1200 deaths in the past few years, no one has drowned in the past year. People smugglers are out of business.

To its credit the government has used its newly-won flexibility to target those most in need, recently announcing 4400 places to those fleeing ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

This is a very good start but it is obvious the persecuted need far more help.

The long term strategic aim of the international community must be to eradicate or at least contain ISIS so a safe haven can be created for Christians and other minorities to return home.

A Middle East purged of Christians is too glittering a prize to hand the extremists.

Nonetheless, many will need resettling.

Yesterday at the National Press Club in Canberra, the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison gave the government’s reason for not acting on increasing Australia’s humanitarian intake.

Asked if it could be doubled, Mr Morrison said the cost of resettling refugees at $2 billion over the forward estimates was too high.

But surely there are offsets in the closing down of detention centres and the eventual cessation of offshore detention.

Sure, Australia’s refugee intake is high by global standards on a per capita basis.

But the need is phenomenal and we are rich.

Military intervention in the name of humanitarianism is laudable. But so too would be allowing in more refugees fleeing ISIS brutality.

Both are costly. It’s hard to understand why we can afford one and not the other.

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