The immigration minister has blasted the coalition’s asylum seeker policy as the maddest idea he’s ever heard.


Tony Burke says the “bizarre” idea of buying boats in Indonesia to prevent their use by people smugglers is “simply crazy policy” and doomed to fail. He says the archipelago of Indonesia has three quarters of a million boats and ship builders would make them faster than they could be bought and destroyed.

“Of all the mad ideas I’ve heard in immigration, I think boat buy-back wins,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

“I have no doubt at all it would be great for the ship building industry of Indonesia and they would be lending a hand to the ship building industry of Indonesia in a way in which they’re not willing to lend a hand to the car building industry of Australia.”

Mr Burke said Australians would be outraged if another country sent its police to our shores, yet that is what the opposition planned to do in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

“Now just think, from the perspective as an Australian, if another country unilaterally announced they were sending their police force to our country to conduct their own operations, you can imagine how that would be received within Australia,” he said.

“And the clumsy nature of simply letting embassies know at the last minute that this was about to come, without seeking consent, without seeking cooperation, without seeking any direct engagement of any fashion with the other countries, is a recipe almost guaranteed to fail.”

Mr Burke said the opposition had claimed to have been working on its policy for four years.

“It takes a very special skill to work on something for four years and still deliver it like you’re on the run,” he said. AAP ce/mn/amc

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