The Secretary-General of ASEAN has rejected the coalition's towback policy on asylum seekers as 'counterproductive'.
Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, the chief of the 10 nation group that covers south-east Asia, warns the plan could jeopardise Australia's ties with the region, Fairfax papers report.
He also cast doubt on the intentions of the opposition to carry out its threat to force asylum seekers to return to Indonesia, should they be elected next year.
'It will be counterproductive,' he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
'Just to impose certain decisions on the neighbours at the risk of losing many other agendas, many other issues on the international agenda.
'I don't think it's worth it.'
The comments are the most critical yet to come from the region in response to the Opposition's proposal.
Dr Surin said only a regional approach could solve the challenge of people smugglers.