Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says he never had plans to go to Phnom Penh this week to sign a refugee agreement with Cambodia.

The federal government denies a refugee resettlement deal with Cambodia is imminent but says it will not give refugees “economic upgrades” on where they end up.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has dismissed reports he is due to fly to the southeast Asian nation this week to sign a deal to send 1000 refugees from the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru there.

Mr Morrison is on a five-day holiday in Queensland and said an agreement was not imminent but still in the works.

He also hit back at critics of the arrangement saying Cambodia was a signatory to the UN Convention on Human Rights and resettlement should not just be a ticket to the first world.

“(They) seem to believe that resettlement should be confined to first-world economies – an economic upgrade program rather than a safe-haven program,” Mr Morrison told News Corp Australia.