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Turnbull: We take seriously our role as refugee-taker

In a doorstep interview in Townsville, Queensland, Wednesday 18 May, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull  said Australia is  one of the most generous host countries for refugees. “We take our responsibilities to refugees very seriously.”

Prime Minister Turnbull said many  refugee  come to Australia from shattered areas of the world. “They are from dreadful, devastated, war-torn regions of the world and many of them, large percentages of them have no English skills at all. Many of them are illiterate in their own language. Many of them have not completed high school. That is no fault of theirs. That is why we are reaching out to help them with compassion.”

Prime Minister Turnbull added, “What we do, in a way that many other countries do not, we invest hundreds of millions of dollars – $800 million a year – in ensuring they get the settlement services they need, so they learn English, so they are integrated into our society. That is why we are the most successful multicultural society in the world. You see, our immigration program is built on a pillar of compassion which means that we take the refugees and their needs seriously and we invest in them.”

Prime Minister Turnbull said Australians should never forget that the success of Australia  as a multicultural country depends upon secure borders.

“ Australians accept this high level of refugee intake, this large humanitarian program because they know that their Government keeps their borders secure. We keep the borders secure. Peter Dutton, as Immigration Minister, is keeping the borders secure. Mr Shorten on the other hand, leads a party that is utterly divided on this issue and would, once again, were they to be in government, once again fail Australians at the border.”

Prime Minister Turnbull said, “that many are  …coming out of the war-ravaged areas – out of the Horn of Africa and other places in the world, of course, many of them have never been employed. Many of them have not had very much education. Many of them are illiterate in their own languages. That is no fault of theirs. That is not a basis for criticising them.

Turnbull said that is why the Coalition government especially Immigration Minister Peter Dunton has this is a basis for us taking our responsibilities seriously and ensuring that we take into Australia the number of refugees that we can effectively settle.

Turnbull added, “What Australians want to know is that the immigration program is being well run, it is being well resourced. Refugees are getting the support they need to integrate into the community and of course our borders are secure.”

As to the issue of refugees allegedly taking jobs from Australians, Turnbull said  the Government want to be sure that they have got the skills to do so.

“We have seen strong employment growth in Australia because of our economic plan, because of the focus we have on growth and jobs. The trade export deals I have talked about, innovation, supporting business, all of these measures, economic infrastructure like this, this is what is driving jobs and growth and immigrants, whether they come through the refugee channel or otherwise, we want them to become part of our work force. We want them, and I am sure they do to.”

As to border protection, Turnbull said, “Border protection and immigration are and always have been key political issues. But our position is very straightforward. We have a strong border protection policy. We have denied the people smugglers the product they want to market. They cannot get their boats to Australia. That is why we are not seeing thousands of people put on boats, leaky boats, many of them drowning at sea. That has been a profoundly humanitarian act and we have been successful.