The Australian Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, is promising a return to the previous government's so-called Pacific Solution to curb the numbers of asylum seekers trying to enter the country illegally.
From 2001 the previous government had maintained detention camps housing hundreds of people on Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.
Mr Abbott announced that if he comes to power he will begin negotiations with foreign countries to provide an offshore processing centre should Christmas Island be full.
The foreign minister at the time of the Pacific Solution, Alexander Downer, says he has no doubt a suitable country would be found.
The Australian Refugee Council's John Gibson says it would be a return to the regressive, failed policies of the past.
He says it was a flawed policy that caused immeasurable problems.
"In the last few months of the policy 24 people who were severely mentally affected by their incarceration on Nauru were brought to Australia, even though they effectively hadn't been recognised as refugees because there was nowhere to send them, so it's an entirely retrograde, regressive, punitive approach which I would like to think most fair minded Australians would reject as something that should stay in the past."