Scott Morrison has left the door open to the resettlement of offshore refugees in New Zealand if he can revive laws slapping a lifetime ban on them ever entering Australia.
The Prime Minister had raised concerns that iif refugees are resettled in NZ they could live and work in Australia without applying for a visa for years as a reason to reject the option.
But with Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie supporting the repeal of medevac, there is speculation the PM may have offered her a reassurance he is moving in that direction.
The lifetime ban would mean that any genuine refugee who arrived by boat after 2013 under Kevin Rudd’s laws and has spent years languishing in detention would never be able to set foot in Australia including as a tourist.
“Our policy is set out in the (lifetime ban) bill we’ve sought to have passed and that bill has to date not had the requisite support for it to pass the Parliament,” Mr Morrison said.
“Our objective hasn’t changed and our record speaks for itself.
“Every child off Nauru. Every child out of detention. We’ve closed the detention centres that Labor had to open.
“Our record speaks to our objective and our aspiration and that is to resolve the caseload that is there.”
Despite claims of a secret deal, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told 2GB radio that Senator Lambie had simply been offered information on what the Morrison government was doing “behind the scenes”.
“The fact is that we provided Jacqui with a classified briefing,” he said.
“She had a much better understanding of what it is we’re doing behind the scenes and she rightly understood then and accepted that Scott Morrison and I don’t want anyone on Manus and Nauru. We’ve got the kids out of Nauru.
“We got support on that basis.”
During the interview, Sydney broadcaster Ray Hadley said he didn’t care if there was a secret deal.
“I don’t give a bugger what deal was done, as long as the rort ends,” Hadley said.
Mr Dutton also said Australians had “dodged a bullet” by voting in Mr Morrison, claiming Labor leader Anthony Albanese was “worse than Bill Shorten” on border protection.
“I have no doubt in my mind that hundreds of thousands of people would have already arrived by boat,” Mr Dutton said of life under Labor.
“You would have had house prices plummeting. You would have had all these new taxes being applied and confidence would have been, you know, would have dried up.
“I think our country dodged a bullet, and to the credit of the Prime Minister I think he’s delivering on what he promised to do before the election, and I think Australians want that.”