John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia, has said that people with HIV should not be allowed to migrate into the country.

Interviewed on radio, the outspoken Liberal leader said that HIV+ people who came to Australia either as migrants or refugees, should not be allowed in.

Mr Howard, who is an opponent of gay marriage and other rights for gay couples, added that he would like to take “more counsel” and then consider ways to tighten existing regulations.

“I think we should have the most stringent possible conditions in relation to that nationwide, and I know the health minister is concerned about that and is examining ways of tightening things up.”

His comments were in response to reports that 70 of the 334 new HIV infection cases reported in the state of Victoria in 2006 were among immigrants.

Yesterday it was reported that discussions about streamlining surrogacy laws broke down over the federal government’s refusal to grant gay rights.

The state attorneys-general’s conference was to stop the practice of Australians travelling to the only part of the country where surrogacy is legal, New South Wales, to have a child by this method.

The federal Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, last night said that some of the other attorneys were holding childless couples “hostage” by pressing the Commonwealth to reform laws governing same-sex couples.

These were thought to include access of same-sex couples to inheritance and superannuation provisions.

Other attorneys disagreed with his assertion, and said a stalemate had been reached over changes to federal family law which the attorneys-general think is required.

Mr Howard’s government recently overturned an Australian Capital Territory law allowing civil unions for same sex couples, but has previously promised to address financial discrimination against gay people.