20 Nov 2009

Australia refugee council disappointed in NZ stance on asylum seekers in Australia

6:46 pm on 20 November 2009

The President of Australia's Refugee Council, John Gibson, says New Zealand is obliged to shoulder some of the resettlement needs arising from the growing number of asylum seekers arriving in Australia.

Canberra is under pressure to resettle up to 78 Sri Lankan asylum seekers who its customs officers picked up in Indonesian waters last month, triggering a four-week standoff with Jakarta over which country would process the group.

New Zealand has ruled out taking any of the Sri Lankans.

Confirming that Australia had raised the question of taking some, Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman said his government was wary of rewarding actions that seek to jump the queue for entry to New Zealand.

John Gibson says it's a disappointing stance.

"It should really be a matter of trans-Tasman support. One of the boats was headed for New Zealand earlier this year and ran aground in the Torres Strait. Despite the distance between us, we see hopefully some positive developments and that includes other countries of resettlement as well."