The Australian Parliament has begun debating controversial proposals to process all future asylum seekers arriving by boat in off-shore camps.
John Howard said he had already made concessions on the bill
Prime Minister John Howard said the Australian people wanted strong border protection.
But the opposition accused him of using the legislation to appease Indonesia.
Earlier this year Australia's decision to accept more than 40 asylum seekers from the Indonesian province of Papua caused a diplomatic rift with Jakarta.
Indonesia temporarily withdrew its ambassador to Australia in protest, claiming that its southern neighbour was interfering with Indonesian domestic affairs.
Currently, only people who arrive on outlying islands or are intercepted at sea have their claims for Australian asylum processed off-shore.
Those arriving on the mainland have their cases handled inside the country, under the Australian legal process.
Australia angered Jakarta by accepting Papuan refugees
If passed, this new proposal would mean that all arrivals by boat would be sent off-shore, to places such as on the island state of Nauru.
Even if they are found to be genuine refugees, they could still be refused asylum. Mr Howard faces stiff opposition to this bill, and has already made several concessions, but on Wednesday he was not in the mood to back down further.
"A lot of changes have been made to accommodate the concerns of some colleagues, but in the end, as happens in any democratic party, the overwhelming majority view must be respected," he is quoted as saying by the French news agency AFP.
But several members Australia's governing coalition have said they will join with the opposition to vote against the new bill.
Ruling party member Petro Georgiou told reporters that the bill was "the most profoundly disturbing piece of legislation I have encountered since becoming a member of parliament".
He told the Associated Press that parliament was now being asked to take a "severely regressive measure".
But the opposition of a few ruling party members is unlikely to prevent the bill from passing in the lower chamber, because Mr Howard has a comfortable majority.