The West

Seven convicted Indonesian people smugglers will be freed from WA jails as part of renewed efforts to encourage greater co-operation from Jakarta in stopping asylum seekers boats.

While Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the seven were not being pardoned, they were being given the "benefit of the doubt" about their age when they were crew on intercepted vessels.

The decision comes on the eve of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono flying to Darwin for the second annual leaders' meeting, starting on Monday.

It follows 10 other convicted crew members being released early in the past six weeks, after considerable diplomatic pressure from Jakarta.

Of the 28 cases reviewed, 17 of the convicted people smugglers pleaded guilty and only three contested their age in court.

With political parties unable to strike a deal this week to restore offshore processing, Prime Minister Julia Gillard is expected to ask Dr Yudhoyono for help in cracking down on people-smuggling syndicates.

Two more boats arrived at Christmas Island yesterday, with two more on their way to the island.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who will today announce a plan to encourage more Australians to study in Indonesia, said the coalition would not shift on its border protection plan.

The PM has asked former defence chief Angus Houston to head a panel to draw up a blueprint for tackling the boat people crisis but Mr Abbott said the coalition would keep its policy regardless of the panel's findings.

Independent MP Rob Oakeshott said that for a "golden hour" during Wednesday's debate in Parliament, the Opposition believed it had won the backing of the Greens to restore offshore processing at Nauru in return for a bigger humanitarian intake.

"There was an agreement signed off by Tony Abbott and Sarah Hanson-Young," Mr Oakeshott said.

WA Liberal Judi Moylan confirmed she discussed extra safeguards underpinning offshore processing with the Greens and "at no time did the Greens resile from their opposition to offshore processing."

Greens leader Christine Milne said her party would never have supported offshore processing. <div class="endnote">


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