SBS Radio App

Download the FREE SBS Radio App for a better listening experience

Advertisement
  • Opposition Leader Bill Shorten (right) has urged the government to accept Jacinda Ardern's offer to resettle Manus refugees (left) in Australia. (AAP)
Despite rejecting the offer when in government, federal Labor says Australia should consider New Zealand's ongoing offer to accept refugees from Manus Island.
English
Source:
AAP - SBS
3 Nov 2017 - 8:12 PM  UPDATED 3 Nov 2017 - 10:17 PM

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has reversed Labor's previous stance on New Zealand's offer to resettle 150 refugees from Manus Island and urged the Turnbull government to consider the idea.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is due to meet the New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern in Sydney on Sunday.

She's expressed concerns about the Manus Island stand-off in which 600 refugees have barricaded themselves in the mothballed detention centre which closed on Tuesday.

Food and drinking water has run out and the group is too scared to move to alternative accommodation in the main township out of fear they'll be attacked by locals.

But the Immigration Department insists those barricading themselves in the old detention centre have access to food, drinking water and health services at the alternative accommodation facilities.

"We appeal to PNG-determined refugees and failed asylum seekers to move to these locations and to access the services and supports that the PNG government has provided," a spokesman said in a statement.

New Zealand, which takes a total of 750 refugees a year, made an initial resettlement offer under John Key's government in 2013 to the then Labor Gillard government.

The offer was rejected by both Labor and coalition governments on the grounds that it would give refugees a backdoor into Australia and become a marketing opportunity for people smugglers.

Ms Ardern said the offer still stands.

Despite Labor previously rejecting the idea, Mr Shorten said there are strong similarities between this plan and the deal with the United States to resettle up to 1250 people.

"(The prime minister) should have the conversation and see if we can make this proposal work," Mr Shorten said.

"If it's not a viable option, then Turnbull should explain why. Doing nothing is not an option."

The Lombrum centre was forced to close after PNG's Supreme Court ruled last year that Australia's detention of refugees and asylum seekers there was illegal and unconstitutional.