Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has slammed Tony Abbott for not discussing his plan to turn refugee boats back to Indonesia with the country's president.
'He talks tough in Canberra and doesn't talk at all in Jakarta,' Immigration Minister Chris Bowen told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.
'He's a lion in Canberra and a mouse in Indonesia.'
But the opposition insists people smuggling was discussed at Mr Abbott's meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday.
Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa, who was in the meeting, has said Mr Abbott did not raise the coalition policy of turning back boats.
The former commander-in-chief of the Indonesian armed forces, Djoko Suyanto, who is now the country's minister for justice, political and security affairs, also attended the meeting.
Mr Suyanto is the Indonesian government's most senior minister dealing with people smuggling.
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison confirmed Mr Abbott discussed people-smuggling issues with Dr Yudhoyono.
In a later meeting with Mr Natalegawa, the coalition's 'full suite' of border protection policies was discussed, although Mr Morrison won't reveal exactly what was said.
'The content of these discussions is private, as it should be,' he told ABC Radio on Tuesday, adding the opportunity to discuss a broad range of matters at such a senior level was unprecedented for an opposition.
Mr Bowen said Mr Abbott was 'all tough talk and bluster on home turf' but did not have the courage to raise turning back the boats with Dr Yudhoyono.
'He has now repeatedly failed to raise with Jakarta the pillar of his border protection policy,' the minister said.
He queried whether it was the opposition leader's intention to turn back boats without Indonesia's agreement or co-operation.
Senior Liberal Eric Abetz said it made sense for Mr Abbott to discuss the 'broad umbrella issues' with the president, while the finer details were left for Mr Morrison to discuss in later meetings with ministers.
'That's the way these delegations usually work,' he told Sky News.