Malcolm Turnbull

NZ maintains offer to take refugees

New Zealand is still willing to accept asylum seekers from Australia's offshore detention centres. (AAP)

As almost 300 asylum seekers face deportation back to offshore detention centres, New Zealand has again offered to take 150 refugees a year from Australia.

Australia is unlikely to take up New Zealand's long-standing offer to take some asylum seekers from its offshore detention centres.

As 267 asylum seekers face a possible return to Nauru from Australia, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Friday said he stood by an offer made in 2013 to then prime minister Julia Gillard to take 150 asylum seekers a year from Australian camps.

"I can't tell you who might or might not be able to come, or whether the Australian government would want to exercise the right to do that," Mr Key said in Sydney following talks with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"All I can simply say is the offer remains on the table."

But Mr Turnbull said while he appreciated the offer, he indicated the government will turn it down in order to deny marketing opportunities to people smugglers.

"We take into account what John has proposed, what John has offered, but we do so very thoughtfully, recognising that the one thing we must not do is give an inch to the people smugglers," he said.

Mr Turnbull insisted the government would assess each situation on a case-by-case basis.

The restated commitment from Mr Key comes amid pressure on the Turnbull government to spare a one-year-old baby, named Asha, and her family from being sent back to Nauru from Brisbane.

The family is among the 267 asylum seekers set to be transferred back to offshore camps after being flown to Australia for medical treatment.

They lost a bid to remain when the High Court ruled Australia's detention network was legal.

The two leaders, following official talks in Sydney, also spoke of the need for diplomacy to ease tensions around the South China Sea; Australia's crackdown on foreign-born criminals; and announced a plan to make it easier for Kiwis to attain Australian citizenship.

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