US deal a lie, choose NZ - Manus refugee

  • 05/11/2017
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo credit: Getty

Donald Trump called it a dumb deal but Malcolm Turnbull says the US agreement to take 1250 refugees from Australia is his priority over New Zealand's offer to help 150.

The Australian Prime Minister again rebuffed a four-year-old offer to send refugees and asylum seekers from offshore detention centres to New Zealand when it was again offered by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday morning.

The pair had brunch at Kirribilli House on Sydney Harbour while discussing the unfolding humanitarian crisis on Manus Island where 600 people have barricaded themselves inside a mothballed detention centre fearing they'll be attacked if they leave.

There's no food, water, power and limited access to healthcare.

Ms Ardern acknowledged on Sunday that the situation was becoming acute but understood Mr Turnbull's position to first pursue the US deal because it would help substantially more people than New Zealand's small offer could.

But Manus refugee Behrouz Boochani told NZ Newswire the US agreement was a lie.

"They announced the deal a year ago but only 25 people sent to America. They are only playing with us and media, it's a fake deal to waste time," he said.

"While [Australia] is not accepting refugees from Manus they have no right to reject New Zealand's offer."

Mr Turnbull said Australia was generous in accepting refugees and asylum seekers each year but it was the government who would determine who could settle there and not people smugglers.

He said New Zealand too had benefited from Australia's tough policy of stopping the boats and people smugglers were also attempting to get people to New Zealand.

"We know what the alternative looks like - tens of thousands of unlawful arrivals, and over 1000 men, women and children drowning at sea," he said.

Despite Mr Trump's claim that the US refugee deal, signed by former president Barack Obama, was dumb it is set to go ahead.

Vice President Mike Pence said earlier this year the US administration would honour the agreement.