Acting PM dismisses letter from refugees on Nauru seeking asylum

11:59 am on 25 July 2018

The acting prime minister has dismissed a letter sent to him from 27 refugees seeking asylum in New Zealand.

Winston Peters

Winston Peters Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The group wrote to Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters saying they were becoming increasingly desperate after being held at the detention centre for more than five years. They promised not to use New Zealand as a backdoor to Australia if accepted.

The refugees argued Australia had been so cruel and heartless that none of them wished to go there anyway.

New Zealand has repeatedly reminded Australia of its offer to take 150 refugees but the Australian government has refused to accept.

Mr Peters said he had long warned New Zealand was being used as a backdoor to Australia and the consequences of that were now being seen.

"Now you ask me, as the acting prime minister, to give a response to the consequences of that, where people write saying we will not use New Zealand as a bolt-hole to Australia.

"Unfortunately our citizenship still has those rights and otherwise you are going to offer them a second-class citizenship."

Mr Peters said the government had not considered bypassing Australia and dealing with Nauru directly.