New Zealand looks set to take a share of asylum-seekers from Australian detention centres.
The countries’ two leaders are expected to make an announcement on the issue tomorrow.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is in New Zealand for talks with her counterpart, John Key, to mark 30 years of close economic ties.
The issue of asylum-seekers is high on the agenda and New Zealand is expected to allocate some of its annual 750-refugee quota to them.
Ms Gillard was tight-lipped on the announcement, saying only, “Certainly people-smuggling is on the agenda for the discussions.”
Mr Key was more forthcoming, telling media he believed it was important New Zealand played a part in what he called an “Australasian issue”.
“We’ve had ongoing discussions with Australia and we’re conscious of the view that a regional solution needs to be found,” he said.
He repeated his past comment that it was “a matter of time” until an asylum-seeker boat arrived in New Zealand waters.
“We work very closely with the Australians. They provide a lot of support for New Zealand so, in that regard, we are looking to work with Australia,” he said.
The two leaders will also discuss the entitlements of New Zealanders living in Australia, with an estimated 280,000 Kiwis on temporary or special category visas denied voting rights, access to welfare benefits and student loans.
A joint productivity commission report last year recommended the Australian government make changes.
Mr Key said he would raise the topic, but did not expect any changes to Australia’s policy “in the very short term”.
That was echoed by Ms Gillard, who talked up Australia’s “generosity”, which includes unrestricted access to the labour market, Medicare, the family tax benefit and the baby bonus.
“It is a relationship we don’t accord to any other nationals, to any other part of the world,” she said.
Ms Gillard and Mr Key are expected to make announcements about cutting mobile phone roaming rates and cyber-security cooperation following the bilateral talks.Source: The Australian – “New Zealand may take asylum-seekers from Australian detention”
- NZ may open doors to Aust asylum seekers (news.smh.com.au)
- NZ to open doors to Aust asylum seekers (bigpondnews.com)
- Funding crisis for juvenile justice in Australia (craighill.net)
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