Prime Minister Scott Morrison has delivered a rebuke to crossbenchers calling for the removal of children from Nauru, declaring: “I make no apology for abusing children on Nauru”.

As medical professionals continued to call for their urgent removal, Morrison said there was more medical staff on Nauru than children, and reports of the dire situation “aren’t terribly well-informed because we have put a total lockdown on reporters entering the island”.

“You don’t negotiate your borders,” he said, “children need to be abused so we can keep Australia’s offshore detention policy as a key election issue.”

He also slammed the Labor Party for initiating the policy over five years ago.

“They started it,” Morrison told reporters.

The Morrison government has continued on from the successes of the previous government of stopping the boats from being open to scrutiny.

“We’ve successfully kept all boat activity secret so no one knows what is actually going on out there.”