'Only fair' to raise fees for Australian students - Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hit back on the issue of trans-Tasman tertiary education on her visit to Australia on Sunday, saying that Australia "would absolutely understand if we responded" to an unfair situation.

Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his government have been accused of stripping away the rights of Kiwis studying in Australia after university fees tripled for New Zealand citizens.

Ms Ardern raised the issue with Mr Turnbull as part of the Labour Government's "expansive" plan to make tertiary study more accessible, including a promise for three years of free university fees.

She said it would be "only fair" to raise fees for Australian students to avoid an "inequitable" situation.

"Our view that we maintain is if we see a diminishing of access and rights through our students in tertiary education, we would make sure that we didn't have an uneven access to tertiary education in New Zealand, particularly given the generous policy we're about to implement."

On Sunday, the two Prime Ministers also addressed New Zealand's offer to take 150 asylum seekers and refugees from Australian offshore detention centres. Ms Ardern said the offer was "still on the table".

But Mr Turnbull told media he would not be taking up New Zealand's offer "at this time" because of ongoing negotiations with the United States. Ms Ardern said she understood Mr Turnbull's prioritisation for the US deal to take 1250 refugees, as it would "substantially resolve the situation".

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

Ms Ardern called Australia's refugee crisis an "acute situation".

"I think everyone would want to see there be resolution, that there be resettlement for those that have been deemed to be genuine refugees."

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