Prime Minister Tony Abbott believes the tragic drowning of a Syrian boy serves as a warning to stop the flow of boats and put an end to illegal migration.
The PM said the “very sad” images of children “tragically dead at sea” sprawled across television screens were a reminder that keeping people safe relied on stopping the boats.
Mr Abbott said he was thankful Australia no longer had that problem after the government told people smugglers “your trade is closed down”.
“As long as people think if they can get here, they can stay here… we’ll have the tragedies at sea,” he told ABC radio on Friday.
His comments come as The New York Times published an editorial urging Europe not to replicate Australia’s hard-line approach to asylum seekers, labelling the government’s policies inhumane.
The newspaper said Mr Abbott’s policies were also “strikingly at odds” with the country’s tradition of welcoming people fleeing persecution and war.
Amid the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Europe, opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles called on the government to boost funding to the United Nation’s refugee agency.
He accused the federal government of not doing enough to support the effort to help the large number of displaced people crossing Europe from Syria and north Africa.
Labor has committed to $450 million over three years for the UNHCR if reinstalled at the next federal election.
Cabinet Minister Barnaby Joyce wants Australia to resettle more Syrian refugees.
Mr Joyce was touched by the personal story of a man whose plastic bag of water bottles and a packet of biscuits were his only possessions in the world.
“As an accountant myself, when you see an accountant walking across the border into Hungary from Syria when his life has been destroyed I feel a sense of empathy for him,” Mr Joyce told The West Australian.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young backed the call for more funding and urged the government to increase humanitarian refugee places to help Syrians fleeing war.
“Australia spends more than double on detaining refugees here in Australia and offshore camps than what the UN has to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis,” she told ABC radio.