June 19, 2018

Govt must accept NZ refugee offer: Labor

07 November 2017, 12:46 | Marta Robbins

GETTY IMAGES Jacinda Ardern is named the thirteenth most powerful woman in global politics

Jacinda Ardern is named the thirteenth most powerful woman in global politics

Ms Ardern's relationship with Australia has been controversial since her election with deputy PM Julie Bishop labeling the 37-year-old New Zealand leader "untrustworthy".

Turnbull had said that Australia was pursuing a deal with the United States to take more than 1000 refugees from Australia before he considered other offers.

Turnbull held bilateral talks with New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern at Kirribilli House in Sydney this morning.

The offer, first made by the country to the Gillard government in 2013, has been rejected a couple of times on the grounds that it would give asylum seekers a backdoor into Australia and become a marketing opportunity for people smugglers.

More than 600 refugees and asylum seekers have barricaded themselves in the mothballed detention centre on Manus Island, which closed on Tuesday.

Turnbull noted that he had shelved the offer in part due to prioritising dealings with the United States - which may settle up to 1250 asylum seekers, if they pass the United States' high vetting standards. They feared for their safety if they had to leave the compound.

Do you think Turnbull should have taken the New Zealand offer?

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It has been rejected a few times on the grounds it would give asylum seekers a backdoor into Australia and become a marketing opportunity for people smugglers.

Overnight, one refugee on Manus Island was reportedly experiencing heart problems.

The United Nations has repeatedly criticised both Labor and Coalition governments for their handling of the issue and called conditions at the Nauru Island detention centre "inhuman and degrading".

A federal government backbencher, Kevin Andrews, today broke ranks to support sending refugees to New Zealand to help end the stand-off on Manus Island.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten believes the federal government should accept the offer.

"Whilst it has not been taken up immediately, the Prime Minister thanked New Zealand for the offer, acknowledged it and it is something that still remains in place".

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