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Labor changes to refugee convention a 'red herring': Abbott

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. Chris Ison

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has labelled potential Labor changes to the United Nations Refugee Convention as a "red herring" that will not fix the asylum seeker problem.

Mr Abbott made the comments on Thursday, after it was reported that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was considering moves to change the refugee convention.

But such changes would need the approval of all the other member countries to the convention, and would be the first time any changes would be considered.

The convention outlines international law when it comes to the human rights of refugees, including preventing asylum seekers from being returned to the country they flee.

Reports on Thursday speculated Mr Rudd was considering making changes to the convention as part of a wider overhaul of Australia's asylum seeker policies.

But Mr Abbott, who remains committed to "turning back the boats", said Mr Rudd was on an international crusade which would not address the issues.

He said Mr Rudd wanted to be "talking about the problem, not fixing the problem".

Mr Rudd on Wednesday said the effectiveness of the refugee convention should be part of international discussions.

While he has not outlined any major changes to the convention, a new asylum-seeker policy announcement is expected within the next week.

Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said asylum-seeker policy was something that needed to change with time.

"What you need to do is constantly modify your policy to meet a changed response," he told ABC.

Topics:  anthony albanese asylum seekers kevin rudd tony abbott


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