Scott Morrison has seized on the interception of an asylum seeker boat in Malaysia to attack Labor over border security.
A tip-off from the Australian Federal Police has resulted in Malaysian authorities intercepting a people-smuggling vessel before it could leave with 34 people on board 10 days ago.
The asylum seekers, including 11 women and seven children, were stopped as they were about to board a boat with the promise they would be taken to either Australia or New Zealand.
Three members of a people-smuggling syndicate were also arrested in the January 4 operation.
Mr Morrison said the threat posed by people smugglers was “always there and always constant”.
The prime minister accused Labor of attempting to dilute his government’s hardline national security framework dubbed Operation Sovereign Borders.
“There’s thousands of people up in Indonesia – if they get the green light from the Labor Party if they’re elected – who will want to get on boats and test that system,” Mr Morrison told the Seven Network on Monday.
“But under us, under our government, that system has held firm. Operation Sovereign Borders has been a great success and we won’t change any of it.”
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the threat of asylum seekers arriving by boat wasn’t over.
“It is only the coalition’s policies which have halted the people-smugglers,” he told News Corp.
“Just like Kevin Rudd, if elected (Opposition Leader) Bill Shorten will change our border policies and the result will be more boats, more deaths at sea and more children in detention. He is not worth the risk at the border.”
A total of 80 people-smuggling ventures have been disrupted under Operation Sovereign Borders since September 2013, data shows: 11 in Malaysia, 15 in Sri Lanka, 53 in Indonesia and one in Pakistan.