The Australian Greens want the country to almost double its annual humanitarian refugee intake.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the minor party does not want people to make the dangerous sea journey to Australia.
Instead she wants Australia to increase its refugee intake from about 14,000 now to 25,000.
“That would go a long way to dealing with the numbers of people (coming) currently,” she told ABC Radio on Monday.
The senator rejected suggestions onshore processing was an incentive for asylum seekers to come by boat.
“In 2011/12, we have seen an increase of 20 per cent of asylum seekers around the world,” she said.
“Of course that has meant an increase, in our region, in the number of people seeking asylum.”
Both Labor and the coalition are under pressure to reach a compromise on asylum-seeker policy in the wake of a fatal boat capsize late last week in which more than 90 people are feared dead.
The Greens have rejected suggestions they are responsible for large numbers of asylum seekers coming to Australia because of their onshore processing policy.
Liberal MP Judi Moylan says both the government’s people swap deal with Malaysia and the coalition’s preferred Nauru option are crude policies.
“If we think that by shoving people out of sight, out of mind into Malaysia … we’re mistaken,” she told ABC Radio.
The MP said she had not changed her mind on the Nauru solution, noting her consistent opposition since it was introduced by the Howard government.
Ms Moylan says a regional solution is needed to address the issue including Australia working closely with Indonesian authorities to stop the people-smuggling trade at its source.
“But that in itself alone won’t stop it,” she said.
Better processing of refugee applications in countries where they are now is also required.
Ms Moylan said while she agreed with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s view that it was the government’s problem to solve, there was no reason why both parties could not sit around the table and come up with a solution.
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said it was “outrageous” the government was suggesting the coalition was holding back support for the Malaysia swap deal because it wanted the boats to keep coming.
“The government is putting forward a bad deal,” he told ABC Radio, suggesting it was seeking to abolish all human rights protections for offshore processing in the Migration Act.
“The government needs to focus on what is poor legislation and that doesn’t seem to be their focus.”
“The government won’t change a letter of it.”
The legislation is stalled in the lower house as the government struggles to garner sufficient support.
Greens leader Christine Milne said her party won’t support any “dog-eat-dog” solution on asylum seekers.
“There’s no way the Australian Greens will support abandoning international law,” she told Sky News.
Liberal Senate leader Eric Abetz rejected suggestions the public debate over asylum seeker policy had become “grubby”.
“It is not the Australian people’s fault … that these people drowned at sea,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“The question is, how do you put these criminals out of business?”
Labor senator Doug Cameron says he fears the moral aspect of the debate has been lost.
“The issue for the Labor party is to develop a policy that is a humane policy that can assure we have a regional response to this,” he said.
The Left faction senator said he supported the Malaysia deal on the condition it guaranteed people would be treated reasonably, and not returned to their country of origin if they feared for their life.