Turnbull, Dutton announce refugee resettlement deal with US

​The United States and Australia have agreed to a one-off refugee resettlement deal for people on Manus Island and Nauru.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed the agreement this morning, but did not provide any details on timeframes or the number of people involved.

Speaking in Canberra alongside Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, Turnbull said the deal would only apply to those currently on Nauru and Manus Island.

"There will be American officials from Homeland Security coming to Australia to begin the process in the next few days."

As of October 31, there were 872 people in the processing centre on Manus Island and 390 people in Nauru's centre.

Turnbull would not be drawn on the number of refugees that would be resettled as part of the arrangement, but he said the priority was "very much on the most vulnerable" — in particular, families on Nauru.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor had not been briefed on the agreement, but welcomed the announcement.

"Labor would be hypocritical if we didn't welcome this because this is the very thing we wanted with the Malaysia solution," he said.


"Labor would be hypocritical if we didn't welcome this because this is the very thing we wanted with the Malaysia solution," he said.

Australian Border Force commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg said "the largest and most capable maritime security presence" will remain on Australia's maritime borders to detect, intercept and return people smuggler boats that seek to take advantage of the deal with the US.

Dutton also confirmed the Australian Government was in the final stages of negotiation with Nauru for a 20-year visa.

The visa will apply to people who refuse the settlement offer in the US.

"We still rely on regional processing, which is why Nauru will remain in its current status forever," he said.

The agreement would be administered with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees and people found not to be refugees will not be accommodated by the agreement.

According to the Immigration Department, 675 refugees on Manus Island had been given positive Refugee Status Initial Assessment Notifications, as well as 941 on Nauru.

Dutton said that people who "aren't owed protection need to return back to their country of origin".

"It is important to point out 650 people have already done that," he said.

Mr Dutton also referred to the proposed changed to the Migration Act, urging the Senate to pass the bill which would ban people on Manus Island and Nauru from ever coming to Australia.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also referred to the legislation earlier today, but did not comment on it.

The ABC understands the Government has been talking with the United States, Canada, Malaysia and New Zealand about resettling refugees on Manus Island and Nauru.


UNHCR 'not party' to agreement

In a statement, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) welcomed the agreement but said it was not party to it.

The organisation added that it remained "gravely concerned" about the fate of all vulnerable individuals in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

"Appropriate solutions must be found for all of them," it said.

"UNHCR's endorsement of these referrals under the humanitarian imperative does not alter Australia's obligations under international law, including the right to seek asylum irrespective of the mode of arrival ... the current policy has failed refugees and asylum seekers who need and deserve safety and care."


Picture: Malcolm Turnbull announcing the one-off refugee deal with the US. Picture courtesy – ABC NEWS