Friday, 17 November, 2017

'No thanks': Malcolm Turnbull rejects NZ refugee offer

Jacinda Ardern is named the thirteenth most powerful woman in global politics GETTY IMAGES Jacinda Ardern is named the thirteenth most powerful woman in global politics
Wilma Wheeler | 07 November, 2017, 00:44

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has turned down New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's offer to resettle 150 refugees "at this time", as the Manus Island detention centre standoff enters its fifth day.

While they were expected to cross paths at the APEC Summit in Vietnam and East Asia Summit in the Philippines next week, Ardern wanted the chance for the leaders to formally meet first.

The offer had been rejected by successive Australian governments under Labor and the Liberal Party.

On Thursday, Ardern said she'd restate her predecessor John Key's proposed deal, which was first offered to former Prime Minister Julia Gillard back in 2013.

"The matter is already before the International Criminal Court (ICC), and of course New Zealand is a signatory to the Rome Statute so we have jurisdiction to take action against perpetrators of crimes against humanity and war crimes".

"The agreement with the U.S. would lead to a substantial number of refugees being resettled", she said.

"In the wake of that obviously we can consider other ones", he said.

Some 600 asylum seekers and refugees have barricaded themselves in the Manus Island complex, which officially closed last Tuesday.

The group says they are afraid of being attacked by locals if they leave.

"We thank New Zealand for making an offer, we are not taking it up at this time", he said, reports the ABC.

Australia's concern in the past has been that refugees will settle in New Zealand and then move to Australia but Ardern said there were ways to deal with that.

The stand-off at the Manus Island detention centre prompted Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to issue a statement on Friday, calling on Mr Turnbull to accept the offer, describing it as not dissimilar to the USA deal.

Overnight, one refugee on Manus Island was reportedly experiencing heart problems.

The controversial clause which allows foreign investors to sue governments is the final frontier in Labour's opposition to the agreement, which the remaining nations hope could be finalised this week.

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