Dutton still not ditching NZ refugee deal

Daniel McCulloch
·1-min read

Peter Dutton is still not ruling out accepting New Zealand's longstanding offer to resettle refugees held on Manus Island and Nauru.

The home affairs minister said he was working day and night to remove asylum seekers from offshore processing centres.

Mr Dutton said between 850 and 900 people had been resettled in the United States in 2016.

He said the number of refugees left on Nauru was down to 134. About the same number are believed to be in Papua New Guinea.

New Zealand has offered to take 150 refugees per year off Australia's hands since 2013.

The coalition government is yet to take up the offer.

"We have not ruled out an arrangement with New Zealand," Mr Dutton told parliament on Thursday.

"I have said that and I've been very clear that we will work with New Zealand as we do on many, many issues."

The minister said he would be happy to resettle people, provided it did not spark more boat arrivals.

Football greats Craig Foster and Sonny Bill Williams joined forces this week to urge the Morrison government to accept the New Zealand offer.

They were joined by a gaggle of Labor and crossbench politicians.

More than 65,000 people have signed an Amnesty International petition calling on the prime minister to seal the deal.