Former Socceroo Craig Foster and rugby legend Sonny Bill Williams have written to Scott Morrison asking him to accept the New Zealand offer to take the remaining refugees still trapped offshore after almost eight years when he meets with Jacinda Adern later this month.
Morrison will fly to Queenstown to meet the New Zealand Prime Minister on May 30 – 31 as the annual meeting between the two leaders resumes for the first time since Covid-19 shut international borders.
Foster and Williams, who joined forces in October last year calling on the Australian Government to accept the NZ offer that has been on the table since 2013, wrote to Morrison last month urging him again to accept the offer.
In the letter, the sporting legends and humanitarian campaigners said the upcoming meeting presented the perfect opportunity to accept the New Zealand offer and facilitate the resettlement process as a matter of urgency.
“With the resettlement deal with the United States quickly drawing to a close, we are deeply concerned that many refugees will be left behind. Since 2013, the New Zealand Government has offered to resettle 150 refugees a year from Australia’s offshore detention regime, an offer that has consistently been reaffirmed,’’ Foster said. “By accepting this offer, the torment they have endured for almost eights years could finally, and mercifully end.”
Williams, the former NZ All Black, rugby league player and now heavyweight boxer, added: “We’ve got to put the politics aside and say enough is enough. New Zealand has a long and proud history of welcoming refugees, and they’ve been offering this solution since 2013. Scotty, it’s time to accept it and let people rebuild their lives.”
Approximately 250 people are still trapped in Australia’s offshore detention regime on PNG and Nauru, with no certainty regarding their futures.