Australia

PM sees plenty of scope in US refugee deal

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says the coalition has not ruled out New Zealand's refugee offer. (AAP)

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says the coalition has not ruled out New Zealand's offer to take 150 refugees from Australia's offshore detention centres.

The federal government hasn't ruled out New Zealand's offer to take 150 refugees from offshore detention centres, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says.

But Mr Dutton says the offer isn't currently in the government's "best interests".

"People smugglers are marketing New Zealand at this point," he told reporters in Townsville on Thursday.

"The Labor Party refuses to accept that."

Since 2013, New Zealand's government has publicly offered to settle at least 150 refugees being held on Nauru or Manus Island, but has been rebuffed by successive Australian prime ministers.

The government has indicated it will only accept New Zealand's offer on condition the refugees are banned from entering Australia.

Labor supports the lifetime ban, but Mr Dutton said New Zealand would become a backdoor for entry to Australia.

"As a New Zealand citizen you have the ability to come to Australia and get a visa on arrival," he said.

"If they (Labor) are elected into government and they bring people en masse from Nauru and Manus, I promise you the boats will restart."

The home affairs minister confirmed the coalition's border protection policies would not change if they are re-elected at the May 18 poll.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor would use the US refugee deal, where refugees are subject to extreme vetting, as a framework for a potential arrangement with New Zealand.

"The same system the government uses is the one we would use in our discussions with New Zealand," he told reporters in Redcliffe, north of Brisbane.

"We are committed to the view that anyone who comes by boat via people smugglers will not be processed and settled in Australia, full stop."

But he opposes keeping people in semi-indefinite detention, he added.

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