03 Dec '11, 9am

Australia immigration minister wants more refugees

Australia immigration minister wants more refugees

SYDNEY: Australia's Immigration Minister Chris Bowen Saturday called for a lifting of the nation's annual refugee intake from 13,750 to 20,000 but said he still wanted asylum-seekers processed offshore. The proposal won the support of the ruling Labour Party at its national conference in Sydney, but Bowen has said the target is aspirational while plans to send boatpeople to other countries have been blocked by the High Court. "We have to tackle this with a soft heart and a hard head," Bowen told delegates. Bowen said refugees were risking their lives on boat journeys between Australia and Indonesia, a perilous stretch which saw close to 50 people drown in a shipwreck off Christmas Island a year ago. "There have inevitably been others that we simply don't know about," he said. In a bid to deter people-smugglers, Canberra in May announced plans to send 800 boatpeople to Mala...

Full article: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/vi...

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