NSW opens arms and borders to Syrian refugees

MEMBERS of parliament from across the political spectrum have made it official that NSW will welcome Syrian refugees with open arms.

A motion put by independent MP Alex Greenwich to accept those fleeing persecution in their home country received unanimous support.

"Many people in New South Wales feel helpless when watching this on the news, but we can help; we can do more," Mr Greenwich said.

"I hope that we see further offers of financial aid and further increases in the refugee intake to assist people who are fleeing this cruel and non-discriminating global humanitarian crisis."

Liberal Bruce Notley-Smith backed the call for the government, saying he spent a week in Syria 25 years ago.

"The country was at peace at the time, but the population lived in terror," he said.

"I had just arrived and had not changed any money. I told a shopkeeper that I had no Syrian money, only American dollars.

"There was a look of terror in his eyes as he checked up and down the street to see whether anyone had seen me and then slammed the door.

"Such is the presence of the secret police and the security services, which have spied on the ordinary populace of Syria and terrorised them for decades."

Labor MP Jo Haylen argued Australia should increase its asylum seeker intake to 30,000, rather than the 12,000 permanent resettlement places the government has offered.

"I am pleased that here in New South Wales we are ready and willing to welcome Syrian refugees who have fled from violence and persecution and who have taken the greatest risk and perhaps the only opportunity they could for a better life," she said.

Jenny Leong from the Greens called for an end to off-shore detention for Syrian refugees.

"At the very least, if we are collectively recognising the humanitarian disaster in Syria, surely we can all agree that we should immediately accept the applications of those from Syria who are currently in our detention centres and those who are currently locked up on Manus Island and Nauru and move to swiftly grant asylum to those Syrians living in limbo on temporary protection visas in our community," she said. -APN NEWSDESK

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