Refugees in the European Union should be interned offshore rather than allowed on the continent, according to Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.

As reported by Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), the minister, who is a member of the rightist Austrian People’s Party, said the EU should replicate Australia’s immigration policy.

Migrants who try to reach Australia by boat are turned back or sent to internment camps in the Pacific Ocean countries of Nauru and Papua New Guinea where they are held indefinitely while their cases are processed. But this policy has been criticised by human rights groups amidst reports of rape and suicides among detainees.

“The Australian model of course cannot be completely replicated but its principles can be applied in Europe,” 29-year-old Kurz, Europe’s youngest minister, told Die Presse in an interview published on June 5.

Kurz also told the newspaper that the EU should adopt a resolution whereby those who try to enter Europe illegally lose their right to demand asylum.

In a separate report, the Reuters news agency noted that Austria’s centrist government promised tougher action on immigration after the far right’s candidate very nearly won a presidential election two weeks ago on voter concerns about Europe’s biggest peacetime migration crisis.

Kurz also said in the interview that the principle of free movement meant EU citizens were migrating to countries with the most generous social welfare systems. He said Austria should follow Britain in seeking ways to treat foreigners differently from its own citizens when it comes to benefit payments.