Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has put New Zealand's latest offer to resettle some of the refugees languishing on Manus Island on the backburner, as a conservative MP broke ranks to declare the government should reconsider.
As the Manus Island detention centre stand-off entered its fifth day, Mr Turnbull held talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Sydney, where she formally extended to Mr Turnbull the offer to take in 150 people. "The offer is very genuine and remains on the table," she said.
But Mr Turnbull said Australia remained focused on the US refugee resettlement deal, which has so far resulted in 54 people being resettled. The US deal covers up to 1250 people but US President Donald Trump dislikes it and vetting is taking a long time.
"In the wake of that deal obviously we can consider other ones," Mr Turnbull said. "We thank New Zealand for making an offer - we are not taking it up at this time."
New Zealand first made its offer to Julia Gillard's government in 2013 but it has been rejected by both Labor and the Coalition. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has now called on Mr Turnbull to accept it, saying it is similar to the US deal.
Mr Turnbull's meeting with Ms Ardern came as former Liberal immigration minister Kevin Andrews said the government should reconsider.
"We have an intractable problem at the present time," he told Sky News. "Yes, the United States are going to accept some of these people but there is still a large number there. It's a difficult problem, I know that, but we should not rule out any particular solution to it."
Others in the government fear a deal with NZ could serve as a "pull factor" by helping people smugglers drum up business.
Mr Andrews' intervention came as Immigration Minister Peter Dutton hit back at a Greens MP who branded him a "terrorist" over the government's treatment of the nearly 600 men on Manus Island involved in the tense stand-off with PNG authorities. The men have barricaded themselves in the detention facility, which was officially closed last week, refusing to move into the community because they fear they will be attacked by locals.
Food, water and electricity have been cut off. At a pro-refugee rally on Saturday and then on social media, Greens MP Adam Bandt said Mr Dutton used violence and threatened lives for political purposes: "If terrorism is using violence to threaten lives for political purposes, then yes, Peter Dutton is a terrorist."
Mr Dutton brushed off the "disappointing" comments.
"The Australian government has stopped deaths at sea, we've got every child out of detention. Mr Bandt, when he was in government with Julia Gillard, presided over 50,000 people coming on 800 boats and 1200 people drowned at sea.
"I've not had a single person drown at sea on my watch."
During a TV appearance on Sunday, Greens Leader Richard Di Natale backed his MP, but would not repeat the "terrorist" charge, saying instead: "Amnesty International has said that Peter Dutton presides over a regime that tortures people."
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has said the men have been offered alternative accommodation options, with healthcare and security available at three new centres in the town of Lorengau; this applies both for the 447 men who have been confirmed as refugees and the 140 men who have been classified as non-refugees.
On Thursday, the UN Refugee Agency said one of the new centres did not have electricity or water connected.