Jacinda Ardern - New Zealand News

New Zealand’s deputy prime minister and NZ First leader has questioned why his country made an offer to Australia to resettle refugees from Nauru and Manus Island – but says it won’t be taken off the table.

The offer to take in 150 refugees was made by New Zealand’s previous government in 2013, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has repeatedly pushed for the deal since taking office.

However, her deputy and foreign minister, Winston Peters, has campaigned on sharp cuts to immigration and says he still doesn’t know why it was made in the first place.

“I didn’t make the offer. If I was the one that decided to make the offer I would stand by it. But I didn’t,” he told Sky on Tuesday.

“You’ve got to go back and ask [former prime minister] Sir John Key why did he make it. And I’m still waiting for an answer to that.”

But Peters said he would not retract the pledge or go back on the governments word despite it not being his.

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, last week told reporters in Auckland it was less likely than ever for Australia to accept the offer because of the passing of a new medical evacuation law against the government’s wishes.

Successive Australian governments have rejected the offer, arguing it would be used as a marketing device for people smugglers.

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Labour, meanwhile, has reaffirmed its plan to accept.

Ardern on Friday rejected media reports her country was not open to resettling single men from Manus Island and Nauru whilst Kiwi politicians continue their ramped-up criticism of the deportation of New Zealand passport holders from Australia.

Ardern complained that since rules were toughened in 2014, too many Kiwis who had spent the bulk of their lives in Australia had been deported, calling it “corrosive” to the trans-Tasman bond.

On Tuesday, she told Newstalk ZB some of the cases were “indefensible’, while Peters told Sky the policy was a “festering sore in the context of justice and humanity”.

Jacinda Ardern met with counterpart Scott Morrison last week who defended the deportations as a hallmark of his government, but said Australia was willing to hear the complaint.

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