5 Dec 2019

Australia to seek NZ solution for Manus, Nauru refugees - reports

2:11 pm on 5 December 2019

Australia will reportedly seek agreement from New Zealand to resettle hundreds of refugees detained in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

A banner from 104th day of protest on Manus Island

Refugees on Manus Island (file photo). Photo: Behrouz Boochani

Newspapers the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald claim Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison privately gave the assurance to Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie, in order to garner her support for the so called medevac repeal bill.

The bill's passage cancelled laws pushed through by the opposition in February that gave doctors more power to order medical transfers from offshore detention.

Ms Lambie voted for repeal on Wednesday after revealing she had made a proposition to the government that had to remain secret over "national security concerns".

But Mr Morrison dismissed suggestions a deal had been struck.

"The government's policy is to ensure that we seek to resettle people who are on Nauru," he said.

"She has the assurance that the government will implement its policies."

The earlier process for medical transfers would be reverted to, Mr Morrison said.

In 2013, New Zealand offered to annually resettle 150 people from offshore detention.

New Zealand immigration minister Ian Lees Galloway has told the Guardian the offer was still on the table, but said there had been no recent approach from Australia.

Meanwhile, 464 asylum seekers and refugees remain stranded in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Australia's Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton said under a deal with the United States to take up to 1250 of the refugees, 654 had been settled there while another 251 had been provisionally approved.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs