PM Scott Morrison confirms Australia has 'no plans' to take NZ's refugee offer

The Australian Prime Minister has confirmed his country has no plans to concede New Zealand's offer to take some of its detained asylum seekers. 

Standing alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Auckland on Friday, Scott Morrison said Australia and New Zealand don't always agree on immigration issues. 

"We might not always agree in these meetings, but we do always listen, which is an important part of the relationship," he told media. 

The New Zealand Government reaffirmed in October last year its offer to resettle 150 refugees from Australian offshore detention centres each year. 

Australia has not taken up the offer since it was made in 2013, however, arguing that refugees could use New Zealand as a back door to get into Australia. And the Australian position hasn't changed. 

"Our government has no plans to take up the arrangement, whatsoever," Mr Morrison confirmed on Friday. 

"And that is particularly now more pertinent on the basis of what happened in Parliament last week, that I think makes it even more difficult than it was before."

He was referring to a landmark bill passed in Australian Parliament last week which makes it easier for sick refugees held offshore to be treated in Australia - a bill Mr Morrison's minority government tried to block. 

"We appreciate the offer, I should stress," he told Prime Minister Ardern. "We appreciate the friendliness of the offer, and its genuineness."

Ms Ardern had been urged to address the dire conditions in Australian detention centres in her talks with Prime Minister Morrison. 

Filipa Payne from Iwi in Aus says conditions in centres need to be addressed as a priority, telling Newshub: "I hope that our Government actually stays strong and stands up for humanity."

Standing alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Auckland, Scott Morrison said Australia and New Zealand don't always agree on immigration issues.
Standing alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Auckland, Scott Morrison said Australia and New Zealand don't always agree on immigration issues. Photo credit: Newshub

On the topic of New Zealanders being deported from Australia, Mr Morrison said the country has "very well-defined immigration and citizenship laws," adding that his government has "taken a very strong-line" on the issue. 

"When it comes to those who are in Australia who are on visas, visas are not citizenship, visas are provided on the basis of people being compliant with those visas and that doesn't include committing crimes.

"We take a very strong view about this. It is a view that is not restricted to New Zealand, I should stress, and I understand that New Zealand understand that this is not targeted in any way, shape or form."

In the last four years, 1500 Kiwis have been kicked out of Australia. For many sent back, it has been life changing for the worse, with some having no connection to New Zealand. Right now, anyone who serves a prison sentence of 12 months or more can be deported. 

Australia and New Zealand have clashed over the issue in the past, with Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters last year accusing Australia of not living up to the United Nations' convention on the Rights of a Child, after detaining a 17-year-old Kiwi.    

Prime Minister Ardern began the joint press conference on Friday by telling press she had brought up the issue of New Zealanders being deported from Australia who have no connection to New Zealand. 

"In my view, this has become corrosive to our relationship," she said. 

Mr Morrison came to power in August last year after ousting former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The Liberal Party MP won the party room vote to become the country's 30th Prime Minister, after a controversial leadership battle.

Newshub.

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