Australia

Labor makes promises on refugees, Newstart

Bill Shorten has announced Australia will take an extra 4000 refugees a year if Labor wins the next election. Source: AAP

Bill Shorten has promised to bring 4000 more refugees to Australia each year and urgently reviewing the level of Newstart in a bid to soothe factional tensions.

An extra 4000 refugees will call Australia home each year and $500 million will go to the United Nations to help asylum seekers if Labor wins the next federal election.

Bill Shorten is also promising an urgent review of Newstart, which the party believes is too low.

But the opposition leader will maintain the coalition's hardline boat turn backs policy and refuses to commit to lifting dole payments.

"You can have secure borders and you can live up to our humanitarian obligations. You just require leadership," Mr Shorten told Labor's national conference in Adelaide on Monday.

The two announcements go some of the way to soothing tensions between Labor's factions over lifting the dole and welcoming refugees.

The Community Sponsored Refugee Program will over time be expanded from 1000 to 5000 places annually.

The program allows state and local governments, community organisations, businesses, unions and faith-based organisations to sponsor humanitarian entrants into Australia.

A Shorten Labor government will also give half-a-billion dollars United Nations High Commission for Refugees over five years.

Mr Shorten said he would look to take up New Zealand's offer to resettle refugees from Nauru and Manus Island immediately on similar terms with the United States agreement.

The Labor leader also promised to release the findings of the Newstart review within 18 months of taking power.

"We believe in the greatness of the Australian safety net," Mr Shorten said.

Some Left faction members were pushing for a rise in the unemployment payment, which hasn't risen in real terms since 1994, prompting advocacy groups to call for a $75-a-week increase on the current rate of $275.

But Mr Shorten's factional allies appear to have secured a backroom victory on Newstart and refugees to ensure the opposition Leader has his way five months out from the federal election.

The party promised to abolish the controversial Community Development Program work-for-the-dole scheme meant to help indigenous people in remote Australia.

It will be replaced because Labor says it punishes indigenous job seekers compared to their city-based counterparts.

Labor also committed to establishing a voice to parliament designed by indigenous people and enshrined in the constitution.

On the first day of the conference on Sunday, Mr Shorten promised to subsidise the building of 250,000 new affordable homes, and a crackdown on dodgy bosses who steal superannuation.

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