Gillard strikes refugee deal with New Zealand

Gillard and Key meeting in Queensland
Refugee deal, Julia Gillard and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in Queenstown. (Photo: Getty)

09 February 2013

Tracy Watkins – NZ Herald

New Zealand has agreed to resettle 150 refugees a year who arrive in Australia.

Julia Gillard and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced the deal on Saturday and said the annual intake of refugees would form part of New Zealand’s annual quota of 750.

They would replace refugees referred by the United Nations High Commission and be subject to Australia’s offshore processing legislation.

The announcement came after talks in Queenstown, New Zealand today. It mirrors a similar deal done between New Zealand and Australia in 2001 when former Prime Minister Helen Clark helped end a diplomatic standoff after a boatload of more than 450 refugees sank off Christmas Island. New Zealand agreed to resettle more than 130 of the asylum seekers after they were rescued by the Norwegian freighter, the Tampa.

Gillard and Key also confirmed joint legislation giving trans-Tasman regulatory bodies the power to cap mobile roaming and data rates for trans-Tasman travellers.

In a joint communique, the two leaders said people smuggling was a regional concern requiring a strong regional approach.

“The Prime Minister of New Zealand advised that New Zealand will work closely with Australia to annually resettle 150 refugees who have arrived irregularly in Australia by boat to seek asylum, as part of a regional approach to irregular migration.”

Key said yesterday it was only a matter of time before asylum seekers reached New Zealand by boat.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard appears to have finally made good on her losing Rugby World Cup bet with her New Zealand counterpart John Key.

Key confirmed that Gillard – who appears to have been dragging her heels on honouring the year-old bet – ate an apple over dinner at Queenstown, where the pair are holding their annual bilateral get together.

The two leaders had bet on the outcome of the All Blacks v Wallabies semi final during the Rugby World Cup. The loser had to eat an apple from the winner’s country.

Apples have been a long-standing sore point in the relationship after Australia only recently lifted a decades-old ban on New Zealand apple imports.

[Read the Sydney Morning Herald article].

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