Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Tony Abbott warns Europe to follow in Australia's footsteps and close its doors to refugees.Getty

Recently ousted Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has issued a start warning to Europe. He said the European Union's misguided altruism in taking in desperate refugees from war-torn countries was a "catastrophic error." He urged Europe to follow Australia's lead in closing its borders to migrants.

Speaking at the second annual Margaret Thatcher lecture in London, he said: "No country or continent can open its borders to all corners without fundamentally weakening itself. This is the risk that the countries of Europe now run through misguided altruism."

He continued: "There are tens - perhaps hundreds - of millions of people, living in poverty and danger who might readily seek to enter a Western country if the opportunity is there. Who could blame them?"

He noted: "Our moral obligation is to receive people fleeing for their lives. It's not to provide permanent residency to anyone who would rather live in a prosperous Western country than their own. That's why the countries of Europe, while absolutely obliged to support the countries neighbouring the Syrian conflict, are more than entitled to control their borders against those who are no longer fleeing a conflict but seeking a better life."

He said this means turning boats with migrants around. "It means denying entry at the border, for people with no legal right to come; and it means establishing camps for people who currently have nowhere to go."

Australia has maintained strict border controls in keeping out unwanted migrants. It has been using off-shore detention centres to house migrants. Abbott says these policies have actually saved the lives of migrants as they dissuade migrants from making perilous sea crossings to Australia.

"It will require force; it will require massive logistics and expense; it will gnaw at our consciences - yet it is the only way to prevent a tide of humanity surging through Europe and quite possibly changing it forever," he added.