Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has signalled that Australia is about to cut a deal with Cambodia to resettle refugees held in Nauru.
His comments come after Nauru and Papua New Guinea determined the refugee status of some asylum seekers sent to them by Australian authorities.
Mr Morrison said the government was making good progress on an agreement with Cambodia, but didn’t want to jump the gun.
“We’ve got a positive response (from Cambodia),” he told Sky News on Thursday.
He is adamant the resettlement of refugees cannot solely belong to a club of first-world economies, like Australia.
The kingdom is one of the poorest nations in the region and is still recovering from civil war.
There are also concerns about internal government corruption, a worry rejected by Mr Morrison.
“If that were true we should immediately cancel the almost $80 million in aid we provide to Cambodia,” he said.
Thirteen asylum seekers, assessed as refugees, have been released into the Nauru community.
Seven others had their claims rejected while 21 others are waiting for a decision to be handed down on Thursday.
It’s understood the refugees will be resettled temporarily on Nauru with five-year visas.
Refugees will have access to language classes, training, health care, work rights and a living allowance at local standards.
They will get some financial assistance, but will be asked to stand on their own feet after a year.
“Many of those being resettled on Nauru have skills, capability – things that Nauruans would welcome in their community,” Mr Morrison said.
In PNG, 11 refugees have received positive decisions, with 15 denied.
PNG MP Ron Knight, who represents Manus Island, said accommodation for the refugees was almost complete at the town of Lorengau, west of the detention centre.
They will temporarily be in prefabricated units with airconditioning, secured behind mesh fences with 24-hour security guards.
The first group is expected to move in within weeks.
Originally, 300 refugees were going to be sent there, but that’s been cut down to 75.
Catering and laundry will be done for them and they will be free to walk about the town.
“It’s like a three-star hotel,” Mr Knight said.