Asylum seeker boat arrivals are given a "light touch" security assessment before being released into the community, opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says.

But his claim has been rejected by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who says asylum seekers on bridging visas are given health and identity and security checks.

Mr Morrison has called for a freeze on bridging visas after a Sri Lankan asylum seeker was charged last week with indecently assaulting a university student in Sydney.

He's also suggested local residents should be notified when asylum seekers were living in their area and for new "behaviour protocols" for asylum seekers housed in the community.

Labor says the coalition is running a fear campaign, but Opposition Leader Tony Abbott denies any vilification of asylum seekers.

Mr Morrison said on Sunday his proposed measures were "reasonable, commonsense safeguards" to protect the community as well as asylum seekers.

"They have had light touch assessments based on an identity that has not yet been established," he told ABC television.

"That is not a full ASIO assessment by any stretch of the imagination."

But Ms Gillard dismissed his claims outright.

"Mr Morrison would well know that people who get visas are people who have been the subject of health and identity and security checks," she told reporters in Sydney.

Former immigration minister Chris Bowen said he expected the coalition to pursue "cheap" and "grubby" politics on asylum seekers up to the September election.

"You can have a strong border protection policy ... but you should never demonise one particular group," the now tertiary minister told Sky News.

"I think that's what the Liberal Party has been doing and is doing on this particular issue."

 

Advertisement