PM calls washed up lifeboat proof that boats have stopped

THE Prime Minister has described photographs of a lifeboat washed up on the Indonesian coast, as "arresting", citing it as evidence that "the way is closed" to asylum seekers hoping to get to Australia.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison recently confirmed the government had bought a number of lifeboats to use to return potential asylum seekers to Indonesia as part of Operation Sovereign Borders.

But a picture of a boat published in News Corp newspapers on the weekend and believed to be one of those bought by the government, indicate such boats were unlikely to be returned to Australia.

Mr Abbot said the government had always intended to "stop the boats and that's exactly what's happening".

Despite questions over what would happen to the boats once sent back, Mr Abbott said there were "certain things you had to do and that's precisely what we're doing".

"The way is closed and as far as this government is concerned never ever will it be reopened," he said.

"You've got to come to this country the right way, not the wrong way and we're happy to invite people in by the front door, but we're never going to allow them to barge in by the backdoor.

The publication of the picture followed a Senate hearing on Friday where Mr Morrison refused to confirm whether he had read documents about the border operation (OSB).

That hearing focussed on a Senate order for the government to produce such documents, but the government has refused, arguing "public interest immunity" on grounds it could jeopardise diplomatic links, national security and the integrity of the operation.