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PM tells UN we need strength, compassion

AAP logoAAP 21/09/2016 Jennifer Rajca

Weak borders drain away public support for immigrants and aid, Malcolm Turnbull has warned the United Nations.

After two days of talks in New York on the worldwide refugee crisis, the prime minister used his first, broad-ranging address to spruik Australia's border controls and migrant intake program.

Countries need to show strength as well as compassion to deal with global challenges, he told the UN general assembly.

"Secure borders are essential.

Porous borders train away public support for multiculturalism, for immigration, for aid to refugees."

The prime minister drew upon the story of Sydney Swans player Aliir Aliir, whose family fled the bloody civil war in Sudan, to celebrate Australia's multicultural story.

Aliir, who grew up in a refugee camp in Kenya and has gone on to play AFL, was described by Mr Turnbull as a role model.

"Tall, fast, agile Aliir was a natural for Australian Rules Football and once he took up the game, (he) hasn't looked back."

The prime minister warned of the threats of protectionism as well as conflict and instability, and called for strength to respond firmly and decisively in the face of tyranny and abuse.

But he also noted the need for compassion, and to help those less fortunate and rebuild communities devastated by war and national disasters.

"Now, more than ever, we need to work together towards common solutions."

And while it would be desirable for more nations to boost their refugee intake - like Australia, which will take in nearly 19,000 annually from mid-2018 - the scale of the problem is so great that resettlement in other countries can never come close.

Mr Turnbull said it's vitally important for Islamic State's so-called caliphate to be defeated in the field, while praising Australia's support in helping put the extremist organisation on the backfoot.

He called out North Korea for recently launching ballistic missiles and conducting what's believed to be its largest nuclear test to date, saying Australia will work with the UN Security Council to support extra sanctions.

The prime minister also made a pitch for Australia to serve the 2018-2020 term on the Human Rights Council, talking up the country's maturity and honesty.

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