The allegations of payment have been made by the crew and the Indonesian police chief on the island.
Indonesia is now investigating claims that crew members of a boat were paid $5000 each to turn around.In other words, yes.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton denied this week that Australia had paid people smugglers.
But Mr Abbott refused to do the same when speaking on Melbourne radio station 3AW on Friday morning, saying "I just don't want to go into details".
"The Australian government will do whatever we need to do to keep this evil trade stopped," he said.
Host Neil Mitchell asked whether this would include paying people smugglers.
"We will do whatever we need to do to keep this trade stopped," Mr Abbott replied.
He later said the government would do "whatever it takes" so long as it was "consistent with being a humane and decent country".
Asked whether he would support in theory a payment to people smugglers, he said: "I'm just not going to get into hypotheticals." more