Asylum seekers who try to "game" the system by destroying their passports will be forced to the back of the processing queue under tough new rules announced by the Rudd government.
Immigration Minister Tony Burke, who announced the policy yesterday, would not be drawn on whether it signified Labor's lurch to the right on asylum seeker policies.
The measures will give priority to would-be refugees arriving by boat who co-operate with authorities, while taking asylum seekers who destroy their passports and identity papers to the "back of the processing queue".
"I want to make absolutely clear that no one would be advantaged by playing that sort of game," Mr Burke said.
"I'm making sure that people don't game the process."
He was asked whether the new measures represented a "lurch to the right" - the very thing Kevin Rudd urged his party not to do when he was challenged by Julia Gillard for leadership of the Labor Party in 2010.
"I don't want to get into 'this one's a lurch to the right' or 'this one's a lurch to the left' argument," Mr Burke said.
His job as immigration minister was a serious one that made a "massive difference to what happens with people's lives and indeed whether or not people have lives".
Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young urged Labor not to embrace right-wing asylum policies.
"It's time for a new way on refugee policy, not a return to the old cruel way of the Howard years," she said.
Meanwhile, Mr Burke slammed the Coalition for appearing to contradict themselves on their policy of towing asylum seeker boats back to Indonesia.
Deputy Opposition leader Julie Bishop said yesterday there would be "no unilateral action" under the Opposition's boat policy, while Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said on Saturday "as John Howard proved, you have got to have unilateral action on our side that works".
Mr Burke said the Liberal Party had "nothing but slogans to offer".
Also yesterday, Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare reiterated that the government was committed to freeing children from Australian detention centres.
But Mr Clare stressed that the process of freeing minors needed to be "systematic" and could take some time.
"If you're going to put a young person into foster care, you need to make sure you can give them the sort of care and support that they need," he said. AAP