14 Sep 2013

New govt urged to keep Rudd asylum-seeker policy

12:36 pm on 14 September 2013

Outgoing immigration minister Tony Burke says Australia's new government should stick with the Rudd people-smuggling policy and not offend Indonesia.

Mr Burke said on Friday the policy had led to a "complete collapse" in boat arrivals and incoming prime minister Tony Abbott should stick with them and avoid implementing policies that would offend Indonesia.

Under the changes, asylum seekers who arrive by boat are sent to PNG or Nauru and are ineligible for resettlement in Australia.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa this week said that parts of the coalition's policy for a $A20 million programme to pay Indonesian village "wardens" to provide intelligence about people smugglers and a boat buy back, won't be accepted.

"We will reject his policy on asylum seekers and any other policy that harms the spirit of partnership and (Indonesian) sovereignty and national integrity," Mr Natalegawa told the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

He said Indonesia would discuss the policy with the Australian prime minister-elect prior to the APEC Summit in October.

AAP reports incoming foreign minister Julie Bishop has said the Abbott government policies would, where appropriate, be discussed during formal bilateral meetings with Indonesian officials in coming weeks and months.

She said discussions would not be conducted through the media.

Another boat

Meanwhile, another boat has been intercepted carrying 158 people, believed to be asylum seekers, north-west of Christmas Island.

AAP reports it was the fourth boat to arrive since the coalition won the election on Saturday with a pledge to stop the boats.

Mr Abbott promised instant action to deter asylum seekers during the election campaign. AAP reports he is expected to lay out his plans to do so next week after his cabinet is installed.

Part of his plan is to turn back boats to Indonesia when it is safe to do so, citing the Howard government's success in doing so under its Pacific Solution.

Four boats were turned back by the Australian navy under the Howard government plan.

Since 19 July, people arriving in Australia by boat without a visa are processed under agreements with Papua New Guinea and Nauru and won't be settled in Australia.