Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern caves to Winston Peters after refugee remarks

The Prime Minister appears to have caved into Winston Peters over the Government's pledge to increase the refugee quota - putting the plan to take an extra 500 every year in jeopardy.

That's despite the government already funding two new accommodation blocks to house them.

Ms Ardern arrived in Nauru to an environment of confusion over her Government's refugee policy, courtesy of Winston Peters.

"We've always been very clear that the things that both NZ First party, Greens and Labour have formed commitment around sit within the confidence and supply agreement, the Coalition agreement, everything else - we go through a process of elimination," Ardern told reporters.

Since being elected, the Immigration Minister has consistently said he'll raise the quota in this term of Government.

The Government even made a cash commitment to the quota, spending $14 million in this year's budget to support two new accommodation blocks at the Mangere Refugee Centre to support the increase in the refugee quota to 1500 a year.

On Monday, Mr Peters turned previous commitments on its head.
On Monday, Mr Peters turned previous commitments on its head. Photo credit: Newshub.

But on Monday, Mr Peters turned that on its head.

"We never made a commitment to double the refugee quota," he said.  

The Prime Minister appears to have caved to Winston Peters, throwing her immigration minister Iain Lees Galloway under the bus.

"He's always expressed a personal commitment to increasing the refugee quota, and that's something that was a Labour policy - but we're in a coalition government, everything sits outside those agreements. We use Cabinet process for that," Ms Ardern said.

A personal commitment is a far cry from the promise this was sold as, but the Cabinet process of course means behind closed doors anything could happen.

Nauru's treatment of refugees has dominated coverage, landing TVNZ journalist Barbara Dreaver in hot water; she was detained by Nauru police for three hours.

Ardern is only on the ground in Nauru for 16 hours, but the lead-up has been tense and full of drama.