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Australia should accept New Zealand offer to resettle refugees

14 November 2017

The two leaders discussed New Zealand's longstanding offer to resettle 150 men from Australia's detention centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru little more than a week ago.

The group, Peace Action Wellington, says it plans to stop workers from exiting to raise awareness of what they say is an abuse of human rights for the 600 refugees still at the decommissioned Manus Island.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says refugees on Manus Island will be her sole focus when she meets with Malcolm Turnbull again this week.

Mr Turnbull opted not to take up the offer, but did not rule out accepting the deal at a later stage.

The camp inside a Manus Island navy base was declared closed October 31 based on the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court's ruling previous year that Australia's policy of housing asylum seekers there was unconstitutional. "No matter what label you put on it there is absolute need and there is harm being done", she said. "I'm interested in the fastest route".

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Police at the protest at the Australian High Commission.

But Ms Adern's criticism of Australia's handling of the refugee crisis on the island - which she has described as unacceptable - has prompted a warning from New Zealand's opposition for her to tread carefully.

"We made the offer because we saw a great need".

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.

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The president was receptive to my comments and it was throughout a very cordial and positive exchange". However, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the issue was not raised.

Mr Trump has called it a "dumb deal" but Mr Turnbull said it is Australia's priority over New Zealand's offer.

The Australia-based Refugee Action Coalition said officials destroyed property in the camp and attempted to destroy water wells that have sustained the asylum seekers for the past two weeks.

A woman protester at the gates of the Australian High Commission in Wellington.

The objective of the protest was to prevent anyone inside from leaving, Peace Action Wellington spokeswoman Emma Cullen said.

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Australia should accept New Zealand offer to resettle refugees