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Six boatloads of refugees headed for NZ in past year - Key

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Key
John Key

Wellington, July 15 NZPA - At least six boatloads of asylum seekers have considered heading for New Zealand in the past year, and those who don't believe a ship could one day reach these shores are "deluding themselves", Prime Minister John Key says.

His comments come as Australia says asylum seekers could be housed on the Pacific island of Nauru if an agreement can not be reached with East Timor, after its parliament on Monday unanimously rejected the plan to have a refugee processing centre there.

Mr Key said today he was happy to have a chat with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the proposal to open a regional centre for asylum seekers, but said that was yet to happen.

"I think there is an issue in New Zealand and those who don't believe a ship can one day come here are deluding themselves.

"We have had advice on at least six ships in the last 12 months who have considered making voyages here."

He said New Zealand "actively sent a deterrent" to one ship that was heading here from Indonesia.

"The reality is that it is not beyond the realms of possibility for a ship to come to New Zealand.

"Is it easy to get here? The answer is that it is absolutely not. But is it possible? The answer is yes and there are people who are planning to do that."

New Zealand took 750 refugees under the UNHCR programme and that would not change, no matter what was proposed for East Timor, Mr Key said.

He earlier said New Zealand would not host a regional centre for processing asylum seekers.

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