NSW Premier Mike Baird backs the federal government’s “stop the boats” policy, but he says greater humanitarian efforts must come next.
Mr Baird has posted a message on Facebook on Saturday in which he says the image of three-year-old asylum-seeker Aylan Kurdi lying dead on a Turkish beach made him feel “sick with overwhelming sorrow”.
He says he will hold talks with the federal government this week to urge greater humanitarian efforts.
“It is a great thing that we don’t have children drowning at sea trying to get to our shores,” Mr Baird said.
“But stopping the boats can’t be where this ends.
“It is surely where humanitarianism begins.”
Mr Baird said the photograph of the dead toddler, printed on front pages across the world, would never leave him.
“Sometimes you can know all the facts and statistics surrounding an unfolding tragedy, but it somehow remains an intangible or external problem,” he said.
“A problem that is almost too hard to get your head around.
“And then you see a photo. And somehow it changes everything…. That photo isn’t just a story of one tragedy. It is the story of thousands of real people in a fight for life itself.”
Mr Baird said he was “deeply encouraged” by the Abbott government’s commitment to increase Australia’s humanitarian intake, but that more needed to be done.
“Over the coming days I will be having discussions with the federal government to see what more looks like and how we can work together,” Mr Baird said.
“I will assure the PM that he can count on NSW to do whatever is needed.”
The premier has made a habit in recent months of bypassing traditional media to take from-the-heart messages straight to voters.
A Facebook post about Adam Goodes and the AFL booing saga garnered hundreds of comments and nearly 9000 “likes” after it went up in July, just a few days after Mr Baird took to the social media platform to unveil his pitch for a five-point hike in the GST rate.