NSW Premier Mike Baird Writes Emotional Facebook Post About Refugee Crisis, Says Australia “Should Do More”

"We cannot see the images we have seen, and feel the things we have felt, and then go back to business as usual."

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Graphic images of desperate asylum seekers fleeing the Syrian war have been filling up Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds around the world for around two weeks now, causing an outpouring of powerful responses and even an unexpected shift in public opinion. In Australia, myriad politicians and public figures have come out in support of our country doing more to help, while Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said the federal government has already increased the refugee intake for Iraqi and Syrians by 4400.

But some parliamentarians say that number isn’t enough, with even those inside the Liberal Party urging Abbott for more. Last night, New South Wales Premier Mike Baird wrote a surprisingly impassioned response to photos of drowned Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi and the international refugee crisis, in a post that was published on Facebook.

Baird, who was re-elected as Premier back in April, echoes Abbott’s boastful praise for “stopping the boats”, but admits he believes we should be doing more. “But stopping the boats can’t be where this ends,” he says. “It is surely where humanitarianism begins.”

“I have said in the past that not only are we a lucky country, we are a great country – and the thing that makes us great is our willingness to share our luck.

I am deeply encouraged by the Federal Coalition Government’s commitment to increase our humanitarian intake over the coming years.

But I believe we should do even more. And we should do it now.”

Assuring us his state is “ready and willing,” Baird goes on to say he will be in talks with the federal government over the coming days to see what this “more” is all about, and how the NSW and federal government can work together to bring it into action: “I will assure the PM that he can count on NSW to do whatever is needed.”

The Premier hasn’t always gotten public sentiment right. It was just last week that he caved to dodgy claims by The Daily Telegrapha paper he’s probably already a bit too chummy with — and pulled educational video about same-sex families Gayby Baby from being screened at state high schools; and an announcement of interest in increasing the GST will never go down well.

But if social media and the “Twitterati” is anything to go by (and according to many conservatives, it’s not), the electorate may have his back on this one. Last night’s post, which — for a politician — seemed genuinely sincere and heart-felt, appears to be largely welcomed and supported by the community.

But please, for the love of god, don’t go reading the comment thread — as overwhelming as the positive attitudes are, it just takes one lunatic claiming the refugee photos are staged and that desperate people from war-torn countries fleeing persecution are “scum” to totally ruin your day.

See Mike Baird’s full Facebook post below:

Feature image under a Creator Commons license, via Wikimedia.