ALLOWING asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru to go to New Zealand would be an "elegant solution" and save Australian taxpayers millions of dollars.
That's the view of former member for Indi Cathy McGowan, whose comments came as the Senate on Tuesday debated the repeal of a law allowing offshore detainees to come to Australia for medical help.
It has been mooted that the revocation of the medevac legislation has been tied to independent senator Jacqui Lambie wanting a deal for those detained to go to New Zealand.
Ms McGowan has been lobbying for a long-standing offer from New Zealand to take the detainees to be accepted by the government.
"I think the government is in a very, very difficult position," she said yesterday.
"I think Jacqui, from what I've been hearing on the media, has offered them a lifeline.
"If you get them off from Papua New Guinea and send them to New Zealand that would make great sense and be a win-win."
However Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government's policies in relation to New Zealand and the asylum seekers had not changed when asked earlier in the week about accepting the Kiwi offer to secure Senator Lambie's backing of a medevac repeal.
Ms McGowan said having all remaining detainees in Papua New Guinea and Nauru go to New Zealand would result in the medevac law, which she supported, becoming defunct because it only applied to that group of people.
"It would be what I call an elegant solution to the problem the government has got," she said.
Ms McGowan added it also made economic sense, given the expense of keeping the asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
"The money is bleeding from Australia and the government surely would be wanting to sort out the surplus and if they send people to New Zealand that would save millions of dollars," she said.
Rural Australians for Refugees national executive member Marie Sellstrom, of Mansfield, said the government could not continue to operate the offshore hubs "particularly when so many of these people are suffering ill-health".
She said "you hate to reduce people to dollars" but if the detainees were relocated it would help the government with a surplus to "provide better health services in regional areas and better support for the drought".
"Ideally the people on Manus and Nauru need a future, they've come here asking for our protection and what we've done as a nation is punish them," Ms Sellstrom said.