7 Jul 2013

Australia admits asylum seeker deal no longer viable

7:57 am on 7 July 2013

The Australian government has admitted an asylum seeker deal signed with Malaysia two years ago would no longer work.

As part of a swap deal with Malaysia signed in July 2011, Australia was to send 800 asylum seekers to the country and accept 4000 verified refugees in return.

The deal did not eventuate because the Coalition did not support it, the ABC reports.

The Government says the deal would have worked at the time, but the Coalition says it would never have been effective.

Two years on, Immigration Minister Tony Burke says a deal would now have to be more comprehensive to cope with the challenge of people smuggling.

Mr Burke says the Opposition's refusal to support the plan has made matters worse and it should own up to the error.

However the Coalition's immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says the Malaysia agreement would never have worked.

Mr Morrison said it was the case "from day one" that an agreement on 800 peopoe was enough to address the challenges.

The dispute comes amid claims the Indonesian president delivered a rebuke of the Coalition's policy to turn back asylum seeker boats.