Refugees On Nauru Would Sign Deal Banning Them From Australia, Say They 'Just Need To Be Free'
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government is considering accepting New Zealand's long-standing offer to resettle refugees languishing on the islands.
But he said it would be based on the the condition they were not permitted to ever travel to Australia.
The Coalition government has consistently rejected the Kiwi offer, claiming easy travel conditions between the countries would constitute a "back door" allowing refugees to come to Australia instead.
But refugees on Manus and Nauru who spoke to ten daily said they had no desire to travel to Australia, and would happily support any deal banning them from the country in exchange for being allowed into NZ.
"I just need to be free, going to Australia is not my concern anymore," said Arash, an Iranian refugee living on Nauru with his family.
"New Zealand is a good country and we will be able to get our safety and protection."
Abdul, a refugee on Manus, said it would be "wonderful" and a "miracle" if Australia granted the deal.
"I will never come to Australia if they agree to let me go," he told ten daily.
"We had enough of this unspeakable pain and torture."
Moz, another on Manus, agreed.
"No-one agrees to be banned to enter a country but my choices are limited. It's certainly a lot better than my current situation," he told ten daily.
Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani said "people are super happy to go to New Zealand and don't care about Australia."
It comes more than five years after New Zealand first offered to take a quota of 150 refugees from Australia each year, with PM Jacinda Ardern reaffirming the offer as recently as September.
Morrison is facing internal pressure over the ongoing crisis, with a number of government backbenchers urging Morrison to bring children and the families to Australia.
The situation, stagnant for years, has become a live political issue as public pressure intensifies over the dozens of children who have lived years, or their whole lives, on Nauru.
"This is an embarrassing humanitarian crisis that the government needs to resolve," Liberal MP Russell Broadbent told the Herald Sun.
Legislation issuing the lifelong ban of travelling to Australia has been stuck in parliament since 2016. Morrison is now urging Labor and crossbenchers to "reconsider their opposition" to the bill.
It comes after an extraordinary week which has seen both Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia's chief medical officer expelled from Nauru.
Dr Nicole Montana, with Australia's health contractor IHMS, was arrested on Tuesday and ordered to leave the island, reported The Guardian.
Following their own earlier expulsion, MSF doctors said the situation on Nauru was "beyond desperate".
"Separating families, holding men, women and children on a remote island indefinitely with no hope of protection except in the case of a medical emergency, is cruel and inhumane," said MSF Australia's executive director Paul McPhun.