‘These people are doctors, architects, they’re just like us’: Sonny Bill Williams calls on Scott Morrison to sign off on deal allowing refugees held in Papua New Guinea to resettle in New Zealand
- Australia urged to sign off on deal that will allow detained refugees resettle in NZ
- New Zealand’s offer to take in 150 refugee each year has sat on table since 2013
- Craig Foster and Sonny Bill Williams leading calls for Scott Morrison to sign deal
Sonny Bill Williams has pleaded with Scott Morrison to finally accept an offer that will allow refugees detained in Papua New Guinea and Nauru to resettle in New Zealand.
The former Kiwi rugby league and rugby union superstar has teamed up with former Australian Socceroo Craig Foster to lobby on behalf of Amnesty International for a trans-national deal that has so far sat on the table for eight years.
New Zealand first offered to resettle 150 refugees trapped in Papua New Guinea and Nauru each year back in 2013.
Australia is yet to sign off on the deal which would allow many of the 240 asylum seekers currently held in offshore detention to start new lives in New Zealand.
The sports stars look forward to an opportunity to convince Prime Minister Morrison to sign off on the deal when they meet in New Zealand on Monday.
Williams said he is ‘flabbergasted’ as to why the prime minister hasn’t yet done so.
Australia has been urged to sign off a deal that will allow refugees to resettle in New New Zealand. Pictured are refugees detained in Nauru
‘All he needs to do is pick up the pen and sign the deal,’ he told the Today show on Monday morning.
‘For myself when you look at it, there are a couple of questions for myself.
‘It is what is a refugee? These people are actually doctors, architects, they just want a better way of life, so they are just like us.’
It’s estimated the Australian government spends $800 million each year accommodating refugees in offshore detention.
‘How much of that money could go to building hospitals, different resources for people? It’s a difficult one to fathom,’ Williams added.
Foster had a blunt message for Mr Morrison.
‘Accept this deal now,’ he said.
Australian Socceroo Craig Foster and Kiwi rugby great Sonny Bill Williams spoke to Today show host Allison Langdon (left) on Monday
Around 240 asylum seekers are currently held in Australia’s offshore detention centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea (pictured)
‘If this deal had been accepted eight years ago, it would have been over. We have wasted at least $5billion.
‘All he has got to do is accept the offer that’s generously been put forward by New Zealanders for almost a decade now.’
Williams later joked he may be forced to give Mr Morrison a ‘little tackle’ to get the point across.
He believes now is the time for kindness.
‘These people have fled from danger and persecution in their home countries, seeking only safety in Australia,’ Williams wrote in a column for Stuff on Friday.
‘For some who fled their dangerous homelands as young men and women, even boys and girls, an important part of their lives has been ripped away from them.
‘They’ve lived in limbo year after year, waiting endlessly for a decision that’s never come.’
Sonny Bill Williams stands in front of 150 empty chairs to represent the number of refugees trapped in Nauru