An Indonesian international relations expert says Tony Abbott's plan to buy leaky fishing boats in a bid to combat people smuggling will sour relations with the country.

The Opposition Leader that aims to stop old boats getting into the hands of smugglers.

Mr Abbott also wants to put millions of dollars into paying local "wardens" to keep watch and give rewards for information that gets smugglers arrested.

But Professor Hikmahanto Juwana of the University of Indonesia says the proposal is offensive and will not be popular with Indonesia's government.

"It will make Indonesia-Australia relations sour because, of course, Indonesia will not readily accept what is proposed by Australia," he said.

Professor Hikmahanto says paying bounties will encourage a culture of vigilantism.

He says the Opposition's proposals show a lack of understanding of Indonesia, and that it is not possible to buy every boat from the thousands of Indonesian villagers.

The Coalition's plan also includes increasing the number of Australian Federal Police officers working overseas, boosting Indonesia's search and rescue capabilities, and supplementing Australia's border protection fleet.

But Professor Hikmahanto says putting more Australian police in Indonesia is offensive to Indonesian authorities.

Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey told Channel Ten's The Project the intention of the policy has been misinterpreted.

"If you can disrupt the activity of the people smugglers, if they're about to load a boat with people there, and you can pay to take the boat from under them, then great, that disrupts their activity," he said.

"I think that's part of the equation, but it's not the whole equation, obviously. So I don't think we're going to be buying every boat in Indonesia."

Immigration Minister Tony Burke has previously dismissed the Coalition's policy as "simply crazy".

"Of all the mad ideas I've heard in immigration, I think boat buyback wins," he said last week.

The government in Jakarta has been doing its best to avoid being drawn into Australia's election drama.

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