Labor is not entirely satisfied with the Morrison government’s argument that it is too risky to bring home Australian women and children trapped in the fighting in Syria.
Families of the Australian citizens have pleaded with the federal government to help extract them from the al-Hawl camp.
But Mike Pezzullo, the head of the powerful home affairs department, said it was too dangerous.
Mr Pezzullo said the Syrian conflict was not a simple one and, despite a five-day pause in fighting, it was not safe for Australian officials to enter the region and bring the women and children home.
“All of the outcomes are unattractive, high-risk and regrettable and it would it would have been much better, of course, for certain adults not to have made certain decisions to travel,” he told Senate estimates overnight.
“Noone’s putting that on children under five and, particularly young babies, that’s fully understood.
“But our job is to provide an overall view to government of all of these sources of information that we have.”
Labor frontbencher Madeleine King said her colleagues would continue to pursue the issue throughout the week of Senate estimates hearings.
“I think this is a desperately grave situation that’s happening in these camps,” she told ABC radio.
“It is a very difficult decision for the government, what is being put to them, and I accept that.
“I accept it’s a grave decision to have to think about and consider, putting other Australians’ lives in peril to go into a very dangerous situation in foreign lands, so we will examine it further.”
Meanwhile, a survey has found most Australians are opposed to the repatriation of the Islamic State wives and children.
There are 20 Australian women and 46 children stranded in northern Syria following the defeat of ISIS.
Some 59 per cent of 1634 voters polled late last week were opposed to their return, The Australian reported on Tuesday.
Another 36 per cent of respondents were in favour.
Opposition to their return was strongest amongst Coalition voters at 70 per cent, according to the Newspoll.
But Labor voters appeared to be split on the issue, with 50 per cent in favour of their repatriation and 45 per cent against.