16 Sep 2016

Australia 'passing the buck' on Nauru - Labour

1:10 pm on 16 September 2016

Australia is trying to pass the buck by suggesting New Zealand should have separate talks with Nauru to resettle the refugees being held there, says the Labour Party.

Australia's immigration minister has said the refugees will not come to Australia at any point, but could go to other countries.

The 25 square kilometres of land which is Nauru, was devastated by phosphate mining which once made the Micronesian Nauruans the second wealthiest people per capita on earth.

The 25 sq/km of land that is Nauru. Photo: AFP

In 2013, New Zealand offered to take 150 refugees a year from Australia's offshore detention camps - an offer that was still on the table but had not been taken up.

Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway.

Iain Lees-Galloway. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Labour Party immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway said any discussion about settling refugees from Nauru must include Australia.

"Absolutely, Australia is passing the buck. These people are their responsibility, and they actually need to take responsibility for their treatment of refugees," he said.

"We disagree with the way they deal with refugees but we think we could work with Australia and with Nauru, and come to a solution that wouldn't have much of an impact on New Zealand."

Detention centers were an inhuman approach to deal with refugees and should be closed, Mr Lees-Galloway said.

Approximately 400 people are housed in the Nauru camp.

Minister of Immigration Michael Woodhouse said the government was not considering entering into a separate settlement arrangement directly with Nauru.

"Our offer was made to Australia to take 150 off shore detainees, who have been approved as convention refugees," he said.

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