Peter Dutton says illiterate refugees will take jobs

AUSTRALIA faced the prospect of having to deal with "illiterate and innumerate" refugees if it significantly increased its humanitarian intake.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton made the comments after The Greens proposed increasing Australia's intake of refugees from 14,000 a year to 50,000 a year.

Mr Dutton says such an increase would be costly and put pressure on Medicare and Centrelink services.

"For many people they won't be numerate or literate in their own language let alone English,'' Mr Dutton said.

He said The Greens' plan should pose difficulties for the ALP, given its close links to the union movement, which was supposed to be about protecting jobs.

"Now, these people would be taking Australian jobs, there's no question about that.

"And for many of them that would be unemployed they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it.

"So there would be a huge cost and there's no sense in sugarcoating that. That's the scenario,'' Mr Dutton told Sky News.

The Federal Opposition says the comments would disgust Australia's refugee population and Mr Dutton should apologise.

The comments come after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stepped up his attack on the Opposition, saying it would go soft on border protection.

Mr Turnbull said the Coalition had a strong record on stopping illegal immigration but Labor would not show the same resolve.

Tony Abbott's former chief of staff Peta Credlin said plans to increase the refugee intake were illogical without proper funding.

"Let's be fair dinkum we are talking about public housing, we are talking about water shortages, we are talking about a range of issues, it's not a simple hand on heart humanitarian response, it's got to be hard-headed and it's got to be paid for,'' the Sky News commentator said.

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