Australia's refugee intake will rise 35% to 19,000 a year

Malcolm Turnbull (C). Photo: Wang Zhou – Pool/ Getty Images.

Australia’s humanitarian refugee intake will be set at 18,750 people per year, making it the third largest humanitarian programme in the world.

The programme will also include a component of Central Americans under a series of pledges offered by prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in New York overnight.

Speaking at Barack Obama’s invitation-only special summit on the refugee crisis, Turnbull also announced a new commitment of $130 million, which will go towards providing refugee aid and resources for migration agencies.

Under the new plan Australia will increase its intake from 13,750 to 18,750.

“In addition to that there is the 12,000 refugees that we’re taking, that are in the process of being received from the Syria conflict zone,” said Turnbull.

“It is a very substantial contribution and one of the points I want to stress is that we have a very good story. We have a proud history of taking in refugees from some of the most troubled parts of the world and then integrating them into Australian society.”

The increased intake was first discussed by prime minister Tony Abbott in September last year.

Turnbull however acknowledge it is a “complex crisis” and it “requires a full spectrum of responses”.

“Because we are able to say that we decide who comes into Australia and how long they stay, because we have control of our borders, we are able to deliver that generous humanitarian programme. We’re able to deliver that with the support of the Australian people,” he said.

“We put a lot of effort, and Australian Governments have done this for many years, into the settlement services and that’s not the case everywhere around the world.

“So we also have to recognise that while we are increasing our refugee intake and other countries should do the same, that would be of great assistance, we are talking about 65 million people – the population of the United Kingdom as Theresa May noted yesterday – who are either refugees or internally displaced.”

In May, the Greens proposed to increase Australia’s refugee intake by 50,000 but immigration minister Peter Dutton said accepting more refugees would see them taking Australian jobs or ending up on social welfare because they are illiterate. Read more on that here.

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