Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Key, Gillard discuss asylum seekers

John Key with Julia Gillard at the Pacific Islands Forum. Photo / Claire Trevett
John Key with Julia Gillard at the Pacific Islands Forum. Photo / Claire Trevett

Prime Minister John Key has met with Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard - greeting her warmly with a peck on the cheek before they got down to the business of the Pacific Islands Forum.

Mr Key said they mainly discussed Pacific issues and Ms Gillard had updated him on plans to re-open Nauru and Manus Island as detention centres for asylum seekers, but had not sought direct support for the centres from New Zealand. However New Zealand was continuing to talk to Australia and other countries about a regional approach to the issue of asylum seekers.

Mr Key did not believe there was any need for similar detention centres for New Zealand, despite recent moves to change the law to allow for the mass arrest and detention of boat people and indications that boat people were targeting New Zealand.

"Before you went to the step of setting up a detention centre you'd seriously have to think that the flow of people would warrant that."

He said New Zealand's concern was about a relatively small number of people coming.

"New Zealand Government's view is that we are not immune from boats coming to New Zealand. It's much more challenging terrain getting to New Zealand than Australia, but we are seeing larger boats being deployed by asylum seekers so it's not impossible and we've had intelligence in the past that ships were on their way to New Zealand."

This afternoon Ms Gillard is due to announce a major funding package to increase the number of women in Pacific Parliaments over the next 10 years. Mr Key said New Zealand supported such initiatives.

Mr Key also met with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill this morning.
Mr Key will also meet with UN Women head and former Chile President Michelle Bachelet this afternoon - it is Ms Bachelet's first visit to the Forum and she is also focussed on increasing the number of women in politics in the region.

- NZ Herald

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