23 Feb 2017

Australia and US refugee deal not a people swap, says Bishop

11:15 am on 23 February 2017

Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the deal for the United States to accept Canberra's refugees held on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island and Nauru is not a people swap.

Australian foreign minister and Liberal Party deputy leader Julie Bishop speaking at the Coalition launch in Sydney.

Julie Bishop Photo: AFP

Nine News reported this came after Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said on Tuesday he viewed the US deal as a people swap in exchange for Australia resettling refugees from Central America.

However, Ms Bishop told the Today Show, this morning, that Australia agreed to resettle refugees currently in Costa Rica as part of its annual humanitarian intake.

She said this preceded the deal made with the Obama administration for the US to resettle refugees from Australia's offshore detention centres.

However Mr Dutton, yesterday, told Sky News Australia would not take anyone until it had assurances that its refugees were going to go off Nauru and Manus.

An opposition Labor frontbencher Richard Marles told Nine News the immigration minister had finally "belled the cat" in admitting the taking people from Costa Rica was contingent on the US taking those on Manus and Nauru.

Manus Island detention centre

The Manus Island detention centre. Photo: Behrouz Boochani

Ms Bishop maintained this was not the case.

She also pointed out that consistent with Australia's policy, the US agreement will not be available to people claiming to be refugees who paid people smugglers to get to Australia.

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