For release: Friday, November 23, 2012

The Australian Christian Lobby has urged a future Coalition Government not to scrap the Houston panel’s recommended increase to the humanitarian intake of refugees to 20,000.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said he understood the need to find savings in the budget but believed it was in our national interest to be generous to refugees.

“ACL commends the Coalition for seeking to preference refugees languishing in camps above those who can afford to pay people smugglers but opposed moves to cut back the refugee intake.

“It is important that Australia sends a message to people seeking passage on a boat with smugglers that Australia will act justly and generously towards those in camps who have already been designated as refugees by the UNHCR.

“Apart from being the right thing to do, increasing the humanitarian intake also sends a clear message to people smugglers and UNHCR-designated refugees in camps that Australia is serious about fairness,” Mr Wallace said.

“The cost of settling an increased humanitarian intake of people should not be the only calculation as refugees do tend to become hard-working and productive members of our community.

“Quite apart from our national interest considerations, a comparatively wealthy nation like Australia can and should do more to alleviate the global humanitarian crisis of displaced people.”