Ardern keeps pressure on Turnbull over Manus Island

Pauline Gross
November 13, 2017

Almost 600 men have barricaded themselves into the Manus island center for more than 10 days without regular food or water, defying closure attempts by Australia and Papua New Guinea in what the United Nations calls a "looming humanitarian crisis".

The would leave about 470 refugees in the centre in Papua New Guinea, which has no power, food or running water.

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.

Al Jazeera's Mereana Hond reports.

New Zealand's prime minister says she has been in constant contact with her trans Tasman counterpart about an offer to resettle 150 refugees.

"We see that we have a role to play here, we're very eager to play that role and as I say I'll be having another conversation with the Prime Minister in the Philippines".

"Last time I looked, New Zealand take significantly fewer refugees per capita than Australia", he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

Ms Ardern said it was faster to organise the logistics of any deal with Australia.

And she has not moved to negotiate directly with PNG while Australia leaves New Zealand's offer "on the table" but does not totally reject it.

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She said she did not intend to pursue direct talks with Papua New Guinea until she had a firm answer one way or the other from Turnbull.

'It continues to be the easiest option is to go through Australia given the screening that's already occurred of those refugees.

She also said she would not push Australia to change their rules to block re-entry.

That has been mooted as a compromise to allay Australian concerns that New Zealand would be seen as a back door to Australia, potentially encouraging more refugees to head for Australia.

The Manus centre is one of a number of offshore detention sites set up the Australian government as a means of deterring "boat people" from heading to the country.

Ardern said New Zealand "treated citizens as citizens and residents as residents", so was not prepared to give the refugees a different status, but how Australia viewed refugees that might come to New Zealand was a matter for that country. He said it was not a "straight-forward matter".

At the EAS, Ardern will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, Premier Li Keqiang of China, EU council president Donald Tusk and President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, as well as with the meeting's host, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said on Thursday that the situation was "unacceptable...but the government won't be backing down". I stand by the way that we've managed the situation.

"There is no closer relationship than the relationship between Australia and New Zealand".

Other reports by GizPress

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