28 Jun 2016

NZ stands by offer to take 150 refugees from Australian-run centres

12:20 pm on 28 June 2016

The government stands by its original offer to take 150 asylum seekers from offshore Australian detention centres, says Prime Minister John Key.

Manus Island detention centre

The Manus Island detention centre. Photo: AFP / REFUGEE ACTION COALITION

Mr Key made the original offer to the former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in 2013.

However, that was not taken up by her successor Tony Abbot, and has also been rejected by the current Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull.

Leader of Australia's Labor Party, Bill Shorten, speaks to the audience at the launch of the party's election campaign in Sydney on June 19, 2016.

Bill Shorten at the launch of the party's election campaign in Sydney on 19 June. Photo: AFP

Australian Opposition leader Bill Shorten told Australian TV news show Four Corners he would not rule out using New Zealand as an option for taking asylum seekers being held on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

He said discussions should first be held with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and that New Zealand was a "a resettlement nation".

Prime Minister John Key at the opening of the refugee centre.

John Key at the opening of the rebuilt refugee centre in Mangere. Photo: RNZ / Mani Dunlop

And Mr Key said New Zealand's offer still stands.

"In good faith we established the 150 places that are available to Australia, we've had an emphasis of taking refugees from the region anyway.

"So in the instance that Australia decided to want to invoke that provision we would allow that to happen, but at this stage it hasn't been something the Australian government's wanted to take up," Mr Key said.

There are about 2000 asylum-seekers at the Australian-run detention centres, which the government is under pressure to close.

And the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court has ruled the detention of asylum seekers at the Australian-run centre on Manus Island is illegal.

Polls showed the Labor leader is neck-and-neck with Mr Turnbull heading into Saturday's general election.

- ABC / RNZ