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Papua New Guinea has denied the two central elements of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's tough new asylum-seeker policy - that PNG will settle all those determined to be refugees and that none will end up in Australia.
PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says he has not agreed to settle all asylum seekers who are found to be refugees after processing on Manus Island and that Australia will need to take back a share of them.
''There is no agreement that all genuine refugees will be settled in PNG,'' Mr O'Neill told The Saturday Age.
He said PNG would work with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to engage with other countries willing to take part in resettling those refugees.
''That includes Australia, New Zealand and all the other countries who are signatories to the UN conventions on refugees,'' he said.
He said he believed Australia had an annual quota to settle about 20,000 refugees. ''Under that process, they will get some and New Zealand has indicated they would take some.''
Mr O'Neill's stand came as the federal opposition toughened its refugee policy, announcing that it would deny the right of asylum seekers to appeal against negative assessments by courts.
It would also retrospectively apply its tough temporary protection visa scheme to more than 30,000 people already in Australia awaiting refugee assessment decisions.
Mr Rudd insisted during the election debate last Sunday evening that there was ''one simple principle'' in his new regime under which all asylum seekers arriving by boat are now being diverted to PNG and would be settled there.
But Mr O'Neill said that while PNG was willing to help with resettling refugees, it could only take ''our quota''.
Mr O'Neill also derided federal opposition claims that Australia risked another major asylum-seeker influx after two Somalis were apprehended last week entering Australia from western PNG via the Torres Strait.
Coalition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison accused the government of opening ''another front'' for asylum seekers and legal affairs spokesman George Brandis said: ''Once you spring a leak, it's not very long before it's a torrent.''
Mr O'Neill said the comments were ''ridiculous'' and there was no evidence that significant numbers of refugees were seeking to use PNG as a pathway to Australia. ''It is certainly an overreaction,'' he said.
Mr O'Neill said many Papua New Guineans had been offended by much of the debate and media commentary in Australia about the asylum seeker deal, which depicted the country as a dangerous ''hell-hole''.
He said PNG was happy to help Australia try to solve its asylum seeker problem, but was not obliged to. ''We can easily walk away from it and allow Australia to deal with it,'' he said.
Mr O'Neill said the new policy appeared to be working. It was slowing the number of boat arrivals and many of the asylum seekers already sent to Manus, predominantly single Iranian men, were indicating they wanted to return home.
''From early indications there are not too many genuine refugees among those who are coming. They are economic migrants and many of them want to go home,'' he said.
Treasurer Chris Bowen said the process outlined in the agreement with PNG was clear, as were Mr O'Neill's comments when the deal was announced.
''What's very clear is we have a strong and enduring agreement with Papua New Guinea,'' Mr Bowen said.
''I think the agreement is clear and I think it's clear it's starting to work.''
Despite Mr Bowen's comments about the deal being enduring, the arrangement signed with Mr O'Neill says the program will be reviewed after 12 months.