Labor keeping an 'open mind' on asylum seekers

LABOR has refuted claims it has backflipped on its position on turning back asylum seeker boats at sea.

The Opposition had previously argued the Abbott government policy had damaged relations with Indonesia.

But Labor's foreign affairs spokesman Richard Marles on Sunday indicated the party would consider changing its position.

However, Mr Marles on Monday told ABC Radio the party's position had not changed, but that the Opposition had an "open mind".

Senior Labor frontbencher Tony Burke and others reiterated the party's position ahead of caucus meetings in Canberra on Tuesday.

Mr Burke said there were still "a number of concerns we've raised for a number of years and that hasn't changed".

However, the Opposition has placed two key caveats on considering continuing the controversial policy, should it win the next election.

Mr Marles on Monday told reporters any such decision would have to be based on ensuring the safety of asylum seekers and Australians during operations, and that it would not affect the nation's relationship with Indonesia.

The party's position against other controversial government initiatives, including a bill to reinstate temporary protection visas, has not changed.

- APN NEWSDESK


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