Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott calls Nauru a 'very pleasant island'

Notorious detention centre Nauru is a "very pleasant island" with good healthcare, according to Tony Abbott.

The former Australian Prime Minister made the comments in an interview on Monday after he was asked about a recent poll that revealed 80 percent of Australians want Nauru residents moved to New Zealand.

The New Zealand Government has offered to resettle refugees here, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he'll support as long as the 'back door' to Australia is closed.

In September the Australian Medical Association warned that Nauru residents, especially children, are experiencing increasing levels of mental and physical distress.

Health organisation Médecins Sans Frontières said at least 78 of their patients on Nauru had attempted self-harm or suicide, and called for an immediate evacuation of the detention centre.

Speaking to Sydney radio station 2GB, Mr Abbott denied the refugees and asylum seekers needed to be moved, claiming they were "being very well looked after".

"Health services on Nauru for boat people are much more extensive than the health services that a lot of regional towns get here in Australia," he said.

"Nauru is no hellhole by any means, I've been there. If you like living in the tropics, it's a very, very pleasant island."

Mr Abbott falsely claimed that almost all the people on Nauru and Manus Island are "would-be economic migrants" who don't deserve refugee protection. In April it was found that 89 percent of those on Nauru have legitimate claims to refugee status.

He said if Nauru residents are granted entry to Australia or New Zealand, it will create a precedent.

"Of course kids off Nauru is a good slogan but it's a dreadful guide to policy because if we aren't allowed to have kids on Nauru, just bring some kids with you and you automatically get to Australia."