"We have a good robust strong relationship. The closest you'll find of any two nations in the world."

Ardern not after a refugee quid pro quo

NEW Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern says she won't want anything in return to resettle 150 refugees from Australia's offshore detention regime should the Morrison government choose to take up her country's long-standing offer.

The resettlement option, first negotiated by prime minister Julia Gillard and Kiwi counterpart John Key in 2013, has roared back into focus in recent weeks.

It is reportedly part of a secret deal struck by Scott Morrison's government with independent Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie for her support to repeal the medevac laws.

On Wednesday, an hour after Lambie's critical vote in the Senate, New Zealand immigration minister Iain Lees-Galloway said Canberra had not been in touch regarding the deal.

On Thursday, Ardern told Sky News the deal remained at a "status quo".

"The ball is obviously in Australia's court," she said.

"The offer was made under a previous government.

"It's not about what New Zealand hopes or wants. Ultimately the ball has sat with Australia domestically for quite some time."

There are around 500 refugees or asylum seekers remaining in Nauru and Papua New Guinea from Australia's offshore detention regime.

One of those, Behrouz Boochani, has traveled to New Zealand this month to speak at a writer's festival.

After declaring himself a free man on arrival in New Zealand, he is expected to announce an asylum bid before he is due to depart the country and return to PNG.

If the Australian government has dealt with Lambie to move some of the remaining refugees, it would give New Zealand the whip hand in any resettlement negotiations.

Ardern said she wouldn't be looking for a quid pro quo from Canberra.

"That is not how we operate our relationship. That's just not the way New Zealand and Australia work," she said.

"We have a good robust strong relationship. The closest you'll find of any two nations in the world."

Reports suggest Canberra won't be party to a deal that allows anyone caught in offshore detention to ever visit Australia, which would make this a pre-condition of a New Zealand resettlement.

Again, Ardern said that wouldn't be a deal-breaker.

"My view is that continues to be a matter for Australia," she said.

"The way they choose to place restriction on movement within Australia's borders is a matter for them not for New Zealand.

"Of course we would want to maintain as much consistency as we're able to in the treatment of New Zealand citizens but it is a domestic issue in the same way I cannot tell Australia to start deporting those who have no connection to New Zealand.

"I will express a view on it but it is still a matter for them."


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