TONY Abbott has put regional and people-smuggling priorities ahead of global foreign policy, speaking to the leaders of Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka before Barack Obama.
Yesterday the prime minister-elect discussed relations with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa regarding asylum-seekers heading for Australia.
The two agreed to have comprehensive discussions during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo in November.
Details of the conversation emerged as a report by the parliamentary library revealed Australia spent more than 3 billion dollars a year, on asylum-seekers, with the cost of detaining and intercepting boat people among the heaviest.
Abbott, who will become prime minister next week, has discussed the issue of people-smuggling with Sri lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter ONeill since last Saturdays election victory.