Australia's longest-serving foreign minister, Alexander Downer, says he was tough on Afghan asylum seekers when he was in office because he thinks they have a duty to develop their country.
Mr Downer says Australian troops need to stay in Afghanistan but he wants the local people to do more.
"We are sending our young soldiers over to Afghanistan to help provide stability and security," he told the ABC's Lateline.
"The Afghans themselves, with the help of countries like ours, are trying to build security forces, and at the same time there are a lot of people who apparently don't want to participate in any of that and are trying to come illegally to our country via a whole series of other countries on the way.
"I can't help but think our young people are training to go there and their young people are coming here on boats."
He concedes some minorities have no choice but to seek asylum elsewhere, but he says many Afghans are helping rebuild the country.
"I think that Afghans would be best advised to do everything they can to try to support their own country and the establishment of a decent, democratic and perhaps in the long-term prosperous society there," he said.