Saturday, 25 November, 2017

Manus Island activists locked to gates of Australian high commission in Wellington

PM denies NZ becoming a soft target for people smuggling Manus Island activists locked to gates of Australian high commission in Wellington
Melinda Barton | 14 November, 2017, 13:22

Turnbull this month rejected the refugee resettlement offer from his New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, preferring instead to work through an existing refugee swap deal he negotiated with former US President Barack Obama previous year.

New Zealand won't pursue a deal directly with Papua New Guinea, despite Foreign Minister Winston Peters spotted holding talks with PNG's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.

She's seeking another meeting with Turnbull to discuss New Zealand's offer to take 150 of the refugees and doesn't believe the Aussie PM sees it as a stunt. "No matter what label you put on it there is absolute need and there is harm being done", she said.

An Australian minister on Friday, Nov. 10 predicted a conflict between Papua New Guinea police and hundreds of asylum seekers who have refused to leave a decommissioned immigration camp where many hold out hope of resettling in the United States.

A convoy of empty buses and trucks has arrived at the former detention centre on Papua New Guinea's Island Manus Island, which about 420 refugees continue to occupy.

Ms Ardern said she doubted Mr Turnbull would see it that way and said it is a genuine offer now as it was when it was made by another leader and another government.

'We urge Australia to reconsider this and take up the offer, ' Nai Jit Lam, deputy regional representative at the UNHCR told Reuters.

Ms Ardern has stressed the "great need" of the 600 refugee and asylum seekers now barricaded inside the closed Manus Regional Processing Centre during a press conference yesterday.

Newshub has been briefed on the deal and can reveal that Ms Ardern is happy for Australia to place an order on any refugees that they can never travel there.

"The people on Manus need our help, they have committed no crime and shouldn't be locked up for exercising their right to seek asylum", said Emma Cullen, spokesperson for Peace Action Wellington.

The confrontation has drawn global attention to Canberra's tough immigration policy, under which asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat are sent to remote Pacific camps on PNG's Manus Island and the island nation of Nauru.