THE arrival of two boats carrying asylum seekers has escalated the political brawl over offshore processing, with Julia Gillard saying Tony Abbott must bear the blame from now on for people smuggling and its consequences.
The opposition hit back, labelling the assault as hysterical and demanding Parliament be recalled to pass Coalition legislation that would allow processing only on Nauru, and not Malaysia.
But Ms Gillard reiterated departmental advice that only Malaysia would work as a deterrent, and said Mr Abbott must pass her legislation.
''This is not a time for Mr Abbott to simply press the 'no' button and just say 'no','' she said.
He must choose between allowing offshore processing to this and future governments or bringing all asylum seekers onshore, Ms Gillard said.
''Either the government has the power to act or it doesn't … Either Australia can process offshore or it can't.''
She said the man who campaigned to stop the boats ''is now saying to the Australian people he'll do anything he can apparently to ensure there are more boats''.
Ms Gillard emerged all guns blazing yesterday after authorities intercepted a boat carrying 109 passengers and four crew. In addition, they had to help another vessel carrying 66 passengers and two crew. The first boat arrived at Christmas Island and the other was en route yesterday.
The High Court ruled on August 31 that the Malaysia plan was unlawful, and the Coalition is refusing to support legislation that would circumvent the ruling. It will only agree if extra changes are made to rule out sending asylum seekers to countries that are not signatories to the United Nations refugee convention.
This disqualifies Malaysia but allows Nauru. The Immigration Department says Nauru will not work as a deterrent now, but returning people to Malaysia will help stop people smuggling.
Parliament adjourned for a fortnight on Thursday with the bitter debate unresolved.
Labor claimed to have the four crossbenchers needed to pass its changes in the lower house, but the Coalition said yesterday the West Australian National, Tony Crook, was not on board.
Mr Crook told the Herald he was undecided, both sides were verballing him, and he was disappointed the two main parties could not sort this out.
It does not matter whether the bill passes the lower house because the Greens and Coalition will kill it in the Senate.
During yesterday's news conference, Ms Gillard mentioned Mr Abbott 32 times. Mr Abbott said Ms Gillard was ''a pretty desperate prime minister who has lost control of our borders''.
''If she wants legislative change she can have it tomorrow, provided she's prepared to accept our amendment,'' he said.
In New York yesterday, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Kevin Rudd, in the box seat to make a comeback should there be a change, called for calm.
The Greens leader, Bob Brown, did not support recalling Parliament to ''prosecute a quarrel'' given the Greens opposed offshore processing.