Missing MPs forced to apologise after government loses vote over New Zealand refugee deal

The Turnbull government has lost a vote in the lower house on a motion calling on them to resettle 150 refugees in New Zealand.

Two Liberal MPs have been forced to apologise after going missing and costing the Turnbull government a vote on the floor of parliament.

Cabinet minister Steven Ciobo and veteran Warren Entsch failed to turn up for a division on a Greens motion calling on the government to accept New Zealand's offer to resettle 150 refugees.

With Labor and the crossbench supporting the move, it got up 73-72.

Christopher Pyne, responsible for government business, successfully asked for another vote , but not till after Mr Ciobo and Mr Entsch explained themselves.

"I want to apologise for missing the vote," Mr Ciobo said.

"I was unfortunately detained and so wasn't able to get here in time."

Mr Entsch, who not long earlier was being interviewed on Sky News, also apologised.

"It was certainly misadventure in missing the vote," he said.

MPs were specifically warned at a briefing with the prime minister and Mr Pyne on Monday morning not to miss votes.

It is not the first time the coalition government has lost a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.

In August it lost a vote on Labor amendments to uncontroversial changes to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act.

In September last year, it lost three divisions - one motion to adjourn, one motion on closure of debate, and an amendment requiring the lower house to consider a message from the Senate immediately.

Prior to this, the last time a majority government lost a division in the House of Representatives was in 1962.