Christmas Island locals rally around Biloela family
The people of Christmas Island are used to hosting asylum seekers, but the presence of the "Biloela family" in the community has generated unprecedented sympathy, the shire president says."I don't think you'd find anyone on Christmas Island who thinks little kids should be kept in detention," Gordon Thomson, a member of the Labor Party and local union leader, told 7.30.
© Getty Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack
A decision on the future of a family of Tamil asylum seekers from Biloela is expected within days , including whether they will be reunited in Perth.
Key points: The ABC understands a decision by the government about the family is imminent. The family has not been reunited in Perth, despite the Acting Prime Minister saying that was happening. About 50 people attended a vigil in Biloela urging the Immigration Minister to use special consideration powers to allow the Tamil family to return.
The Tamil family from Biloela being held in detention on Christmas Island could soon be allowed back into community detention on the island, the home affairs minister Karen Andrews has flagged.
When asked if she had compassion for the family , Andrews said compassion took many different forms. The family won a full federal court appeal in February that the government’s handling of Tharnicaa’s visa application denied her procedural fairness. The court said it was “kafkaesque” that the government failed to inform the family that a decision had been reached on whether to consider her application.
An imminent decision about the future of a Tamil asylum seeker family will be based on humanitarian considerations as well as health and legal advice, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack says.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is expected to announce within days the government's decision on whether to intervene in a long-running court dispute over the family's bid to remain in Australia.
Priya and Nadesalingam Muruguppan fled Sri Lanka's civil war by boat to Australia in 2012 and 2013. The couple and their Australian-born daughters, Kopika, 5, and Tharnicaa, 4, have been detained on Christmas Island since August 2019 after being removed from the Queensland town of Biloela following unsuccessful asylum claims by the three oldest family members.
Is the government softening on the Biloela family?
The family's case has attracted public and political sympathy, and now there appears to be compassion in Coalition ranks.This morning, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews tried to put the genie in the bottle — after days of talk about overseas resettlement, she returned to the Coalition’s familiar terrain of stopping the boats.
He could decide to do nothing, allow the family to apply for visas regardless of the court decisions of the past or bestow any visa in the public interest under Section 195A of the Migration Act. Queensland Nationals MP Ken O’Dowd, whose electorate of Flynn includes Biloela , has called for a swift decision to
“I would support an application for them to come back with their Australian-born children to settle in Biloela , but they have to come in through the normal process. Do it through the appropriate channels,” he said. The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day ’s most important and interesting
Hope For The Biloela Family ?
Finally. Breakaway govt MPs show support for releasing the Tamil family .
A series of court orders has stopped the federal government from deporting them, with the family's future resting on whether Tharnicaa has the right to apply for a protection visa.
Tharnicaa was flown to Perth with her mother last week for medical care after being diagnosed with pneumonia and sepsis.
Mr McCormack said on Monday he understood the family was being reunited in Perth this morning. Mr Hawke's office has been asked to confirm details.
Family friends have raised concerns about their deteriorating mental health, especially that of the two young girls.
The acting Prime Minister said the government had stuck to its "clear and steadfast policy" on people who arrived on boats.
"We are all compassionate," Mr McCormack said. "I appreciate that many people have a view on this matter but we will decide our view, through Alex Hawke, who is the minister, with the proper oversight of this decision.
‘I'm proud to be from Biloela': The town they called home
The story of Biloela and its most famous family, who "just wanted a safe, happy life with their kids", is again burning on Australia's collective tongue.SUVs towing caravans slow down outside her patch of Rainbow Street and silhouetted faces peer from the windows. She can see them sometimes from inside the house, a neat timber rental a few streets from the sleepy main drag.
The decision means the family will not be removed from Australia while the legal process remains ongoing but will remain in detention on Christmas Island without ministerial intervention. Priya and Nades Murugappan and their daughters, Kopika and Tharnicaa, were taken from the regional Queensland town of Biloela into detention in Melbourne more than 1,000 days ago.
The decision doesn’t immediately change the living situation for the family on Christmas Island. Until the outcome of the appeal is determined the family will remain in detention indefinitely, barring ministerial intervention.
The family have lost their attempts to gain refugee status in the courts, but earlier this year the Federal Court ruled Tharnicaa had been denied procedural fairness. Dr Allen, a paediatrician before entering Federal Parliament as the member for the Melbourne seat of Higgins, told The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age a ministerial intervention was
“It is time for the government to release the Biloela family from immigration detention, as a renewed sign of compassionate and humane Australian leadership.” Ms Andrews’ spokesman said she had nothing to add to remarks she made last week.
"He will make that announcement this week and he will base it on humanitarian considerations, on health outcomes and on legal advice."
Overnight, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said from England, where he attended a G7 leaders' meeting, that offering the family medical attention was the top priority for now.
He said it wasn't the government's policy to offer pathways to permanent settlement.
A coalition of peak medical groups has signed a letter to the government saying it is extremely concerned about the family's ongoing detention.
A handful of Coalition backbenchers have also spoken out in favour of the family returning to their community, although some MPs believe the outcome should be left to the courts.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the family was very much part of the community in Biloela, about 420 kilometres north of Brisbane, and townspeople wanted them home.
"We're a better country than this. And this family are not a threat to Australian sovereignty or Australian borders," he said. "They're Australian citizens, these two little girls, or they should be, and they should be looked after here."
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Barnaby Joyce's return as Nationals leader gives Biloela asylum seeker family's supporters hope .
A close friend of the Tamil asylum seeker family who are in community detention in Perth has expressed hope newly elected Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce stands by calls for them to return to Biloela in regional Queensland. Biloela resident Angela Fredericks has travelled to Perth to be with the Murugappan family, who lived in the town until 2018 when they were moved into immigration detention, before being sent to Christmas Island the following year.The family's youngest daughter, four-year-old Tharnicaa, was flown to Perth with her mother Priya two weeks ago for medical treatment.