Australian PM talks down deal with opposition for NZ to take Nauru asylum seekers

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has talked down the prospect of a deal with Labor over asylum seeker resettlement, stepping away from a proposal flagged during the Wentworth by-election.

Labor is weighing up whether to back draft laws, introduced by the coalition two years ago but not passed, to place a lifetime ban on resettled asylum seekers being allowed to enter Australia.

One of Labor's conditions is for the lifetime ban to only apply to New Zealand-resettled asylum seekers coming off Nauru.

The Wentworth by-election reignited debate over the fate of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island, some of whom have been there for five years.

During the campaign, the coalition flagged the possibility of accepting a New Zealand offer to take in 150 refugees if the "backdoor entry" ban was legislated.

Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra today resettling people in New Zealand had never been his preferred outcome.

It could undermine the deal struck with the United States and unwind tough border policies.

"You don't get children off Nauru by putting more children on Nauru through weaker border protection policies," Mr Morrison said.

And in any case the laws could not come on for debate in the Senate until November 12.

He said he was concerned, as were doctors, about the mental health of children on Nauru.

"What I'm going to do is continue on the program that I have been working with some crossbenchers on very carefully, not in a big-noting way ... managing the issues case by case, talking to those who understand the mental health and physical health issues," Mr Morrison said.

"We've been getting some good things done and we've been doing it without running the risk of seeing this whole nightmare opening up again."

Opposition immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann said earlier Labor was willing to work with the government, and sent a letter to Immigration Minister David Coleman on Monday night outlining amendments.

Mr Neumann said the time had come for the government to meet Labor halfway.

"You can be strong on border protection, resettlement, but the truth of the matter is these people have stayed there too long," he said.

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek said the lifetime ban proposal was a step too far.

The issue was not raised in the Labor caucus meeting today.

Meanwhile, Australian Border Force confirmed 11 children in detention on Nauru have been transferred to Australia to receive medical treatment.

The revelation came at a Senate estimates hearing on Monday, with ABF saying an unknown number of adult refugees and asylum seekers had travelled with them.

Fifty-two children remain on the island.

About 652 people, including 107 families, were on Nauru, while 626 men were on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, Border Force told Senate estimates.

The offer stands. But it is still ultimately a matter for the Australian government - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Asked about the matter at her post-Cabinet news conference this afternoon, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the offer to take 150 refugees stands.

"Our offer, we have been completely consistent on, remains the same," Ms Ardern said.

"The offer stands. We've made provision to act on the offer. You've hear our Immigration Minister today talk about our ability to action that within our quota. But it is still ultimately a matter for the Australian government," she said.

"We've always said that of course we would want to see children in particular, and women and children a particular priority," Ms Ardern said.

"UNHCR would be a part of the screening as they are for all of our refugees. And that would be our expectation in this cae. But my expectation is UNHCR would be prioritising those groups as well," she said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Source: 1 NEWS