Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr says a people-swap deal with Malaysia can work even if Malaysia decides not to sign the UN Refugee Convention.
AAP reports the federal government wants to resurrect the Malaysian deal, but the coalition wants to limit offshore processing to countries that are signatories of the UN Refugee Convention, such as Nauru.
Senator Carr on Tuesday confirmed Australia is still committed to resettling 4000 refugees from Malaysia over four years under the arrangement.
AAP reports he said it was "very silly" for the opposition to oppose the plan because of the refugee convention.
"As Malaysia sees it, they have two million illegal workers, they have 100,000 refugees, they're dealing with this and they can deal with it without signing the convention," he told ABC television on Tuesday.
Under the proposed deal, the federal government would send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in exchange for 4000 refugees coming to Australia.