Australians support NZ offer for refugees: poll

Julie Bishop
Julie Bishop

Australians would be happy to see refugees resettled in New Zealand, according to a new poll.

The poll shows a majority of Australians support New Zealand taking refugees from Manus Island and Nauru.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has repeatedly offered to take 150 asylum seekers in the wake of what has been described as a humanitarian crisis in the islands' detention centres.

The offer has been repeatedly rebuffed.

Australia prefers to work out a resettlement solution with the United States and Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has also cited the risk of refugees being sent to New Zealand and then returning to Australia through our "open borders'' policy.

A Sky News ReachTEL poll published yesterday showed 58% of those Australians surveyed supported the resettlement of refugees in New Zealand; 19% were opposed, and 23% undecided.

Ms Ardern told Newstalk ZB yesterday that offering to resettle 150 refugees, an offer first made by then prime minister John Key in 2013, was part of New Zealand's role in assisting Australia with handling asylum seekers.

"We've always argued that we don't have the same issues that Australia has, but we see that we have a role to play in helping or assisting in resolving those issues. Resettlement is part of that.''

Asked later about the poll, she said the results were "interesting''.

"Ultimately, it's a decision that still sits with the Australian Government.''

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, in response to the poll, said Australians wanted strong borders.

"We don't want to encourage people smugglers to put people on unseaworthy boats as we have seen in the past, causing deaths at sea and untold misery as they seek to get to New Zealand and/or Australia,'' Miss Bishop told Sky News.

Opposition leader Bill English said the poll result was unsurprising.

"I'm not surprised Australians would prefer refugees to come here rather than go to Australia.''

Ms Ardern said her stance on the Manus Island asylum seekers had not made New Zealand a soft target for boat people, saying reported "chatter'' among people smugglers targeting New Zealand was nothing unusual.

She denied she had made the situation harder for Australia, saying New Zealand was working alongside Australia to try to stop people smugglers.

"We are working alongside them to try to put an end to people who are risking other people's lives for monetary gain.''

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