8 Apr 2014

Kevin Rudd defends Australia's asylum policy

12:12 pm on 8 April 2014

Australia's former orime minister has defended his government's controversial policy of reopening asylum seeker detention centres on Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Addressing an audience at Oxford University in England, the former Labour leader Kevin Rudd said Australia faced a serious problem of people smugglers attempting the journey between Indonesia and Australia, which had to be stopped.

Mr Rudd said a large number of asylum seekers who attempted the dangerous journey weren't genuine asylum seekers and were overwhelming Australia's whole refugee intake.

"And the lesson of that sent out to people smugglers was: 'If you're staying in some camp somewhere around the world, in some hell-hole, you're never going to get anywhere.' So, that is the practical moral and political dilemma that you face. It's not a perfect answer, but let me tell you it's important to put that into an integrated context in making an evaluation about whether our policies were right or not."

Former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.