Prime Minister John Key flatly denies New Zealand is about to sign a deal with Australia to resettle refugees detained on Manus Island and Nauru.
Speculation about such a deal has been prompted by the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement that asylum-seekers who arrive by boat will be prevented by law from ever being let into the country.
The denial comes as a United Nations investigator arrives in Australia today for an 18-day visit to immigration detention centres.
The proposed Australian law would cover asylum-seekers on Manus Island and Nauru.
New Zealand has offered to take 150 people from Nauru a year but Mr Key said while the offer remained on the table, Australia showed no inclination to take it up.
However, a source told the ABC the only way the proposed new law would make sense was if the Turnbull government was close to signing a deal with another country, like New Zealand.
Mr Key told reporters that was not happening.
“No – it’s not New Zealand [that has been approached].”
Labour leader Andrew Little said the proposed legislation was drastic.
New Zealand would never be able to resolve the issue for Australia, but should continue to offer to assist in whatever ways were helpful, he said.
Meanwhile, United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants Francois Crepeau arrives in Australia today.
Mr Crepeau will use his trip to examine immigration detention and processing centres in Australia and on Nauru.
In a statement, Mr…