Libs 'would send SAS' to turn back the boats

THE Federal Opposition has declared it would send Australian troops - including top level SAS soldiers - to help turn asylum-seeker boats around.

But the declaration, from Shadow Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, comes after Indonesia expressed concern about the Coalition's "turn back the boats" policy.

Mr Morrison declared on Sky News on Monday that the Coalition would replicate John Howard's actions during the Tampa crisis in 2001.

He said former prime minister Howard had sent SAS troops to assist during the Tampa incident, indicating a return to similar strategies.

"That's the message that was sent to the region and we all know the result of that," he said.

The declaration that troops would be sent to help merchant vessels rescue asylum-seekers came after a Maltese vessel tried to return refugees to Indonesia last week.

Those seeking asylum then threatened suicide if the vessel sent them back, putting a stop to the trip, highlighting the complexities of the issue.

It also came after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd met with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to talk refugees last week.

A joint communiqué from the meeting stressed the need to avoid "actions which might jeopardise" a regional approach, alluding to the Coalition's policy.

Mr Morrison also told ABC Radio on Monday any asylum-seekers who travelled by boat, but had no identity documents, would be sent back.

His comments come after debate over the question of how to deal with those who lose, or destroy their documents.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare, responsible for Border Protection, said on Sunday co-operation was key to managing those people claiming asylum.

"So the individual concerned that's seeking asylum needs to give us the information we need to contact their embassy to get the necessary information we need to confirm their identity," he said.

Mr Clare said it was the "job of people in uniforms to make these decisions not politicians".

"It's not right for politicians to tell people in uniforms, or captains of ships, what to do," he said.



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