Australian PM Open to Sending Refugees to NZ

Australian PM Open to Sending Refugees to NZAustralian PM Open to Sending Refugees to NZ

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday left open the possibility of resettlement in New Zealand for asylum-seekers facing repatriation to a detention camp in the tiny Pacific Island nation of Nauru.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key arrives in Australia on Thursday for talks that may revive an offer by Key to accept some asylum seekers now in Australia, providing Turnbull a way out of a growing political headache, Reuters reported.

Key reached a deal in 2013 with former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to resettle 150 refugees then in Australia as part of New Zealand’s annual humanitarian intake of 750 refugees.

But Turnbull’s predecessor, Tony Abbott, had declined to follow up on Key’s offer.

Australia’s tough immigration policies provide that anyone intercepted while trying to reach the country by boat is sent for processing to camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. They are never eligible to be resettled in Australia.

Australia’s High Court this month rejected a legal test case that challenged its right to deport 267 refugee children and their families who had been brought from Nauru, about 3,000 km northeast of Australia, for medical treatment.

The detention center, which houses more than 500 people, has drawn widespread criticism for harsh conditions and reports of systemic child abuse.