Prime Minister Scott Morrison opened the option to transfer people from Nauru to New Zealand due to worsening conditions that refugees face.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister said the government was “quietly” removing children from the island nation, telling reporters this week the number had halved over the past nine weeks.
“We haven’t been showboating about it, we haven’t been doing any of those things,’’ Morrison said.
Australia’s Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton announced that this is not the appropriate time to resettle asylum seekers in New Zealand. Intelligence reports revealed that people smugglers would resume their illegal activities, once the Morrison government pushes through with proposed resettlement plans.
These developments have made Dutton believe that resettling refugees may resume human trafficking or people smuggling activities.
“My judgment at the moment, based on all of the advice available to me, is New Zealand would be a pull factor (for people smuggling activities) at this point in time.”
The Home Affairs Minister said that the government could pass Morrison’s proposed legislation but they would still need ample time to investigate intelligence reports to ensure transfers didn’t trigger fresh boat arrivals.
Dutton also confirmed that removals from Nauru had been accelerated in recent weeks but claimed that the purpose was to save money and not for humanitarian reasons.
The shadow immigration minister, Shayne Neumann, welcomed the news however, he said that it was overdue and it was now “up to Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton to ensure children are actually removed from Nauru”.
“Let’s not forget, this news is completely opposite to what the government has been saying was possible – and they are still continuing to fight medical transfer cases in the courts,” he said on Thursday.
“Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton need to tell Australians what the long-term plan is for these kids. They can start by accepting New Zealand’s offer to resettle eligible refugees.”