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Tony Abbott Just Said "Nope Nope Nope" To Taking Refugees

“If we do the slightest thing to encourage people to get on the boats, this problem will get worse, not better.”

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott was in Adelaide this morning to spruik the government's small business package. Here he is staring lovingly at small business minister Bruce Billson.

Dan Himbrechts / AAPIMAGE

The PM spoke at length about how his government's budget measures will help South Australians, before opening up the floor to questions from journalists. Abbott was asked about the unfolding humanitarian crisis on our seas as more and more nations follow Australia's lead by turning back refugee boats.

Thousands of migrants are currently stranded at sea on rickety boats, severely malnourished and fighting over what remains of their food and water. Southeast Asian countries are in a stand-off, refusing to rescue the desperate people adrift off their coasts.

The prime minister gave the government's standard response about breaking the people smugglers' business model.

"We have a very clear position and that is that the people smuggling trade is evil," he said. "It kills people. The only way to keep people safe at sea is to stop the boats. That's what we are determined to do."

The prime minister was then asked if Australia would help to re-settle any of the thousands of Rohingya refugees who find themselves without a home.

"We have a very clear refugee and humanitarian program," he said. "It's a refugee and humanitarian program which has been modestly expanded because we have stopped the boats and we are not going to do anything that will encourage people to get on boats."

"If we do the slightest thing to encourage people to get on the boats, this problem will get worse, not better."

"I'm saying a very clear message to people: If you want a better life, you've got to come through the front door, not the back door. Don't think that getting on a leaky boat at the behest of a people smuggler is going to do you or your family any good."

Yesterday, Foreign Minister Julia Bishop increased Australia's humanitarian aid to Burma, which is at the centre of the crisis.

Ian Hitchcock / Getty Images

"This contribution builds on our long-term support to Burma's economic, political and social reform process, and our commitment to address security challenges in Burma," Bishop said in a statement.

"It will also undermine the ability of people smugglers to sell the false hope of unsafe boat journeys to neighbouring countries."

The $6 million in funding will be used to help the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the World Food Programme and the Burma Emergency Response Fund.

The PM was also asked if Australia would take a leading role in ending the refugee crisis.

"This is quite properly a regional responsibility and the countries that will have to take the bulk of the responsibility are obviously the countries which are closest to the problem. In the end, the culprit is Burma because it is Burma where there is an issue," he said.

"Our role is to do everything we humanly can to stop people smuggling. The best way to do that is to make it absolutely crystal clear that if you get on a leaky boat, you aren't going to get what you want, which is a new life in a Western country."