Are Manus Island asylum seekers a threat to Australia?

The 119th daily protest on Manus Island, West Lorengau centre on 29 November. - Photo: supplied

The Australian government has rejected an offer from New Zealand to take 150 of the Manus Island asylum seekers on the basis they might use this country as a back door in to Australia.

But what are the chances of this actually happening and if it did, what sort of threat would these people pose to our neighbours across the ditch.

RNZ spoke to one of the 131 Tampa refugees New Zealand took off Australia's hands back in 2001 who, after settling here, decided to then move to Australia.

Qayum Hussaini was only 15 when his family paid the people smugglers the $23,000 fee for a one way ticket from his remote mountain village in Afghanistan to Australia.

He left his family and began a journey through Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia before ending up on an overcrowded fishing boat in the Indian Ocean along with 433 others all hoping for a better life.

The plan was to make it to Australia's Christmas Island but the boat got into trouble in high seas.

"[It was] really stormy, the weather was really extreme. To be honest nobody thought they would make it."

Qayum Hussaini is a Hazara, an ethnic minority that was being persecuted mercilessly by the Taliban when he fled Afghanistan.

No matter how bad things got, he and his fellow Hazaras knew that giving up and heading home was not an option.

"You have to take the risk to journey all of the way. You look for a better chance [and] either you get killed in your own country or you take a risk."

Their boat was famously picked up by the cargo ship the Tampa.

While most were denied entry to Australia, New Zealand accepted 131 of the group, including Qayum Hussaini.

The rest of his family later joined him here, and, as he proudly noted, all of them had gone on to bigger and better things.

"I graduated in civil engineering, my brother he graduated in architecture and my sister she graduated from Otago University in medicine."

Once he had completed his studies in New Zealand, he travelled the world including to Tasmania which he said he fell in love with straight away.

He now has a wife and two children, aged one and five, and runs a business in Hobart and Launceston buying used cars and shipping parts and scrap metal overseas.

It was this scenario, of refugees making their way in to Australia after being granted citizenship in New Zealand, that our trans-Tasman neighbours have given as the reason for declining this country's offer to take the Manus Island detainees.

Its Immigration and Border Protection Minister, Peter Dutton, said one of the reasons people like Mr Hussaini were not welcome, was they would take jobs off Australians.

But in Mr Hussaini's case, he had actually created jobs, 14 of them to be precise in his own little slice of paradise in Tasmania.

And he was not alone.

He knew of three other Tampa refugees who had all come in through the back door of New Zealand and gone on to create businesses in the lucky country, all employing Australians.

Qayum Hussaini, said the asylum seekers on Manus Island should be given the same opportunity that he was.

"Hazara people they never miss a chance. If there is ever any chance to improve of succeed, they'll take it. If for instance Australia they are denying [the opportunity] to those people [Manus Island detainees], I think for Australia it is a very good chance to take them or let other countries take them."

The future for the Manus Island detainees remains uncertain.

Last week they were forcibly removed from the Australian run detention centre and taken to transit centres managed by the Papua New Guinea government.

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