Bowen’s refugee pledge ‘would cost $1.35b’

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says a proposal to increase Australia’s refugee intake by 50 per cent would cost the government $1.

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35 billion over four years.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen will propose at the Labor Party’s national conference this weekend to increase Australia’s resettlement of refugees from 13,750 to 20,000.

“He wants to increase the refugee intake each year,” Mr Morrison told Macquarie Radio.

“He wants to do this deal with the Labor left to get support for his already failed Malaysian people swap.”

Mr Morrison said the government was capitulating to the Greens.

“More and more people are getting on each individual boat at the moment, which is increasing the risk for those people.

“This minister has simply lost control.”

BOWEN SUPPORTS MORE REFUGEES

Mr Bowen told ABC Radio on Thursday he has :had the view for some time that we could and should take more refugees”

“It’s an aspiration … there’s no timeline that I’m putting on it,” he said.

“I just think it’s very important that the Labor platform, which is after all a statement of broad objectives, has that objective in it for the first time.”

Mr Bowen said Australia’s refugees intake was the highest per person of any country in the world.

“But that doesn’t mean I don’t think we can do more still,” he said.

He said his proposal would make it clear that Labor’s view was to take more refugees.

“We want to give more people a life in Australia but we need to tackle the dangerous boats coming to Australia,” Mr Bowen said.

“Then we can have that conversation with the people of Australia to increase our refugee intake further.”

Mr Bowen said the offshore processing of refugees had to be one of several measures to reduce the number of people jumping onto boats heading to Australia.

“Just increasing your refugee intake is not a deterrent to getting on a boat to come to Australia, but if it is part of a broader mix, which included offshore processing, that would be important,” he said.

Labor abandoned a plan to put its bill to allow offshore processing of asylum seekers in Malaysia to a vote in October after it could not guarantee its passage through parliament.

The minister’s proposal comes after Australian authorities intercepted a boat carrying more than 100 asylum seekers east of Christmas Island on Wednesday.

Senator Doug Cameron, a member of Labor’s left faction, said the proposal on refugees was standard procedure from the party’s right wing to put up propositions that had “no reality”.

The discussion on Mr Bowen’s proposal to increase the refugee intake was one of several issues expected to stir debate at Labor’s conference on Friday.

“It should not be tied to a political ploy that says we’ll do the right thing if you give in to the Malaysia solution,” Senator Cameron told ABC Radio on Thursday.