Any acceptance of a New Zealand offer to resettle refugees from Manus Island would be a fatal mistake, an independent senator warns.
Newly-elected NZ prime minister Jacinda Ardern will repeat her offer to take 150 refugees from Manus and Nauru when she meets Malcolm Turnbull on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in the Philippines this week.
"That's a fatal mistake, literally a fatal mistake - people die when that happens," Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm told reporters in Canberra on Monday.
"If these people are taken in by New Zealand it will effectively be a back door into Australia."
About 420 refugees remain in the now-closed Manus Island centre where food, water and medical supplies have been cut off for almost two weeks.
The Papua New Guinean government is urging them to relocate to alternative accommodation.
Mr Turnbull previously turned down Ms Ardern's offer, but left the door open to considering it at a future stage.
Government frontbencher Matt Canavan defended Australia's record when it came to resettling refugees.
"Last time I looked, New Zealand take significantly fewer refugees per capita than Australia," he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.
"It seems like a PR stunt from the New Zealand prime minister to try and focus on one group of refugees which there is a process for, including settlement in the United States."
A deal initially struck between Mr Turnbull and former US President Barack Obama could lead to up to 1200 refugees being resettled in the US after vetting.
Labor senator Sam Dastyari cannot understand the prime minister's logic in rejecting the NZ solution.
"It makes no sense to me how you can argue that we should be doing the deal with the US, which I believe we should do, and not be doing a deal with New Zealand," he said.
"There is no closer relationship than the relationship between Australia and New Zealand."
On the day of his swearing-in as a Greens senator, Andrew Bartlett said Malcolm Turnbull should accept the Ardern offer.
"What many, many people are saying throughout the country, certainly throughout Queensland, is close those camps, bring them here, they've suffered far too long," he said.
"We should not be having this system where we are deliberately inflicting pain on innocent people at a massive cost to the taxpayer."