JOURNALIST: You met with several organisations about this crisis. What did they tell you that Australia could and should do about this?
PETER DUTTON: Well overall the outlook is that it’s a bad situation getting worse.
I think all Australians recognise, through the vision we’re seeing on our television sets, how desperate people are as they move across borders and are getting into the boats of people smugglers and turning up to third countries otherwise.
This is a humanitarian crisis and many have characterised it as the worst situation that we’ve faced since the Second World War in terms of displacement.
We know that four million Syrians have now left the country. Millions of people within Syria are displaced.
This is a significant issue and the Government, obviously, is keen to do what we can.
That’s been the basis of our discussions with a number of organisations since we’ve been here in Europe.
JOURNALIST: What do those organisations want Australia to do?
PETER DUTTON: Look, the first message is to make sure that extra additional financial support is provided, particularly to those in their millions who are in camps in Jordan, in Turkey, in Egypt, in Lebanon, in the north of Iraq.
These are desperate people. It's not just about accommodation; it's about food, it's about education for young people as well.
Their most immediate requirement is for funding to provide support to those people.
That's the most urgent need, urgent requirement, and that's what they've asked of Australia to look at first - what financial support we might be able to provide to give those people support where they are now and not just within the camps, but the fact that they’re within communities, within townships within these regions as well.
JOURNALIST: So how would that financial help be done and specifically did the UNHCR ask Australia to restore the funding levels that the Government cut over the last year or so?
PETER DUTTON: Well the UN, as well as IOM, Red Cross, they're all keen for additional funding. There's no question about that.
They received pledges from a lot of countries that don't follow through with those pledges.
When Australia makes a pledge to provide financial support we provide that support. And there's additional money that we can provide.
I think the Prime Minister will have more to say about that in the next 24 hours.
JOURNALIST: So that funding might be restored?
PETER DUTTON: Well, in terms of the funding commitment that we'll make, the Prime Minister will make an announcement in relation to that in the next 24 hours.
In addition to that, places that we can take and that we can provide to Syrians, there'll be an announcement in relation to that as well.
JOURNALIST: Will Australia increase its overall intake above the 13,750 already slated for this year?
PETER DUTTON: Well I think it's important for Australians to understand that 13,750 places within the humanitarian refugee program currently makes us, on a per capita basis, the most generous nation in the world.
Now we're increasing that number to 18,750 by ‘18-‘19, and that's a significant increase.
We will provide support. We will make announcements about the initial support that we are going to provide.
The Prime Minister will make that announcement in due course.
JOURNALIST: It sounds like, though, you're going away in your answer there from any idea of any increase overall this year.
In response to one of the worst crises in Europe's history, wouldn't that be, even a one-off increase, wouldn't that be more than justifiable?
PETER DUTTON: I think people will be impressed with Australia's response. I've listened very closely to what the leaders have had to say here in Europe and I've taken that back to the Prime Minister, to the National Security Committee.
The Prime Minister will make an announcement. I think it'll be a generous announcement, both in terms of the dollar amount and the number of places that we'll be able to provide.
I think people should stop short of second guessing about what the announcement will be. Wait for the announcement.
I think people will see it as a generous offering on behalf of the Australian public and I think people will be proud of what the Government's proposing.
JOURNALIST: There's been some talk in Australia about the priority, perhaps should be the Christian minorities, or the persecuted Christians in the region. What's your view on that?
PETER DUTTON: Well there's no doubt that there are minorities that are being persecuted. ISIS, the Assad regime, other players within the region target specific minorities.
The Government's been very clear about our desire in particular to help women and children, families who have been displaced, women who have been raped or sexually assaulted otherwise.
There is a lot of desire within the Government to make sure that we can provide those people with a new start in life.
The Prime Minister will have more to say about that.
JOURNALIST: Does putting the priority on Christians potentially, though, risk stigmatising Muslims who are themselves fleeing from violence and conflict?
PETER DUTTON: Well there'll be obviously a response from each of the countries within the region, including the Gulf States, as well as other European nations.
Those countries will make decisions about the cohort that they accept, about the way in which they can provide support to different people.
Australia's had a very proud history. We have provided support to persecuted monitories for a long period of time. In the financial year 2014-15 we’ve provided support for 4,500 Syrians and Iraqis.
That’s put us, really, ahead of the curve, and I think we should be very proud not only of the assistance we’ve provided already, but the assistance that we’ll provide in terms of the package that we announce within the next day or so.
JOURNALIST: Is there anything about the tone of that sort of narrative that concentrating on Christians, not thinking about Muslims, that worries you?
PETER DUTTON: Well I think we’re concentrating on those who are persecuted, and those that won’t find a home in this part of the world for a long time to come.
People are persecuted because of their religious belief, they’re persecuted because of other reasons.
Our Government wants to make sure that we can provide a new start to as many people as possible.
We can do that in part because we’ve been able to stop the boats and we have an orderly migration programme in Australia now, and I think that’s recognised by the agencies that we’ve met with.
There’s a lot of work to do. This is not going to be resolved next week, next month, or next year. This is a crisis that will go on for many, many years.
Our commitment will be over a long period of time.
We’ve had a very proud history of being - for a population of only 24 million people - a country that has settled people in vast numbers.
We’ve done it for a long period of time, and we will respond in a compassionate way to this unfolding crisis.
JOURNALIST: Minister, thank you very much.
PETER DUTTON: Pleasure, thank you.