The Courier-Mail

Fellow LNP members fail to back Jones’ call to increase intake to 50,000

- STEVEN SCOTT

FEDERAL Government backbenche­r Ewen Jones says Australia can take up to 50,000 more refugees from Syria and believes his Townsville constituen­ts agree with him.

But Mr Jones’ neighbouri­ng LNP MP George Christense­n warned against increasing the refugee intake, saying it could cost jobs and create tension.

Mr Jones (pictured) shock- ed some of his colleagues when he called for a one-off increase to refugee numbers of between 30,000 and 50,000, which was much higher than Labor’s call for a 10,000 boost or the Greens’ call for 20,000.

But his call came as other influentia­l Liberal party figures, including NSW Premier Mike Baird, urged the Abbott Government to take significan­tly more refugees.

Mr Jones said most of his Townsville constituen­ts were opposed to asylum seekers arriving by boat but would welcome an influx of Syrian refugees into their community.

“There is a big difference between having strong borders and what we are seeing unfolding,” Mr Jones said. “When it comes to times of crisis, cyclones or fires, we are a very welcoming community.”

No other government backbenche­rs were prepared to back Mr Jones’ call, but many agreed with the sentiment and wanted a modest increase.

“As a result of the Government’s success in stopping illegal boat arrivals to Australia, we are now in a position to take more refugees from offshore refugee camps,” Brisbane MP Teresa Gambaro said.

But Mr Christense­n hit back at Mr Jones and said Australia should increase the number of Syrian refugees within the existing refugee intake. e. “People who are talking about bringing tens of thousands of them into the country, that’s just a crazy argument,” he said.. “Those people will go straightt into the jobs market or going on the dole.”

North Queensland LNP Senator Ian Macdonald warned community sentiment could shift and urged the Government not to favour Syrians over other desperate people.

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