1 Jun 2013

Turning back of asylum seeker boats still on - Coalition

10:05 am on 1 June 2013

The Coalition in Australia will push ahead with its policy to turn back asylum seeker boats despite an Indonesian government representative saying the proposal is "not possible".

Ambassador Nadjib Riphat Kesoema said boats should be turned back to the countries where asylum seekers are from, rather than transit countries like Indonesia.

The ABC reports Indonesia previously called the policy a "backwards step" and expressed reservations about it.

However, the Opposition's foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop maintains the policy will not be dumped.

"Should we be elected I am confident we will be able to work constructively with the government of Indonesia on the issue of people-smuggling," she said.

''It is an inescapable fact that the majority of boats coming to our shores are Indonesian boats with Indonesian crew leaving from Indonesian ports,'' Ms Bishop said. "Those boats can be returned to their home ports."

When asked by the ABC if Indonesia had ever indicated that it accepts the policy, Ms Bishop said she would not make confidential discussions public.

"I can understand that Indonesia does not want to encourage the people-smuggling trade," she said.

"I'm confident that we'll be able to work constructively with the Indonesian government should we be elected to government here in Australia.

"We will reintroduce temporary protection visas. We will turn back boats where it is safe to do so."