Is Australia being too sensitive on Manus? 'Yes' - PM

5:59 pm on 13 December 2017

Australia is being overly sensitive over New Zealand's offer to take Manus Island refugees, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

In an interview on Newstalk ZB on Tuesday night, Australia's deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce suggested the Labour-led government mind its own business.

Barnaby Joyce

Barnaby Joyce Photo: AFP

Asked whether New Zealand should back off its offer, Mr Joyce said:

"It's best if you stay away from another country's business.

"Otherwise they will return the favour at a time they think is most opportune for them."

Since taking power, Ms Ardern has renewed a long-standing offer to take 150 refugees from Australia's offshore detention centres.

The offer was first extended by National's John Key in 2013 and reiterated by then Prime Minister Bill English, but Ms Ardern has pushed harder than her predecessors.

But this afternoon, she told reporters she had not raised the issue for weeks.

She was only talking about the topic because Australian politicians kept bringing it up, she said.

"We made the offer and that is that. It only seems to be the Australians that seem to continue to raise the issue."

Asked if the Australians were being overly sensitive, Ms Ardern replied simply: "yes".

Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Photo: AFP

And she rejected suggestions her relationship with Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull was breaking down.

"Not at all. In fact, I've had contact with Prime Minister Turnbull since then on other matters ... we continue to have a good working relationship."

The Labour-led government has also committed $3 million in aid to help the refugees in Papua New Guinea.

National Party leader Bill English said the government's campaign was creating tension between the two countries.

"I'm sure the Prime Minister knows the Australians are not going to respond to that kind of lecturing."

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