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Australia Why has the Tamil family been flown to Perth? Will they be allowed to settle in Biloela?

22:52  15 june  2021
22:52  15 june  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

No discussions between Australia and NZ or US about Biloela asylum seeker family, ABC told

  No discussions between Australia and NZ or US about Biloela asylum seeker family, ABC told No actual discussions have taken place between Australia and two countries flagged as resettlement options for a Tamil asylum seeker family being held indefinitely at Christmas Island detention centre, the ABC is told.The government yesterday publicly raised the prospect of the Biloela family, including their Australian-born children, being resettled in New Zealand or the United States.

a little girl wearing a hat: The Australian-born Murugappan children Kopika and Tharnicaa were in detention on Christmas Island until recently. (Supplied: Angela Fredericks) © Provided by ABC NEWS The Australian-born Murugappan children Kopika and Tharnicaa were in detention on Christmas Island until recently. (Supplied: Angela Fredericks)

A temporary reprieve has been granted to a Tamil family left languishing on Christmas Island for the past two years, but their long-term future in Australia hangs in the balance.

The Murugappan family has been released from offshore detention and reunited in Perth, where the youngest member, Tharnicaa, is recovering from a serious blood infection.

Her mum, Priya, has been at the four-year-old's bedside for more than a week, and yesterday a charter flight collected Tharnicaa's father Nades and six-year-old sister Kopika from the remote island, 2,600 kilometres away.

The girl from Biloela who has spent every birthday in detention with her Tamil family

  The girl from Biloela who has spent every birthday in detention with her Tamil family There are growing calls for the family to be allowed to remain in Australia, or at least to be released back into the community while legal bids continue. There are specific concerns about the two girls remaining in detention for so long, and the quality of medical care the family is receiving on Christmas Island.In July 2020, Priya was flown to Perth for medical treatment after experiencing severe abdominal pain and vomiting for two weeks.Tharnicaa had been unwell for 10 days before she was medically evacuated with a suspected blood infection earlier this week.

Their lawyer, Carina Ford, said the family was relieved and "looking forward to some freedom" but that the fight against deportation to Sri Lanka is far from over.

"It's not quite the result we were hoping for, because we were hoping they'd be returned to Biloela," she said.

What happened yesterday?

After days of pressure, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke intervened and used his powers under the Migration Act to release the family from immigration detention and move them into the community in Perth.

It follows medical advice from the clinicians treating Tharnicaa who recommended she remain in Perth for at least another eight weeks and that she be reunited with the rest of her family.

"It is the right decision, a compassionate decision," Mr Hawke said.

Opinions divided in Coalition ranks over future of Biloela family

  Opinions divided in Coalition ranks over future of Biloela family Opinions are split within government ranks over whether a family currently detained on Christmas Island should be allowed to settle in their adopted home of Biloela.While more Coalition MPs begin to speak out in favour of allowing the family to stay in Australia, others are questioning why the family should be treated differently from others.

It means the Murugappans will now live fairly freely in the West Australian capital; they'll be given a house, have access to health services and Kopika will be able to go to school.

But the family will still technically be in detention — they're classified as "irregular maritime arrivals" — meaning Priya and Nades won't be allowed to work, or even volunteer unless they're given approval, or move from their Perth home.

They can't return to their former home, in the Queensland town of Biloela, unless the government changes its resident determination.

Does this mean they're staying in Australia for good?

It's complicated.

Nades and Priya Murugappan arrived by boat in 2012 and 2013 respectively, got married, moved to Biloela and had their two daughters Kopica and Tharnicaa.

In 2018, after the courts rejected their application for protection, the family was moved into immigration detention in Melbourne, and then on to Christmas Island when a separate court injunction stopped their deportation.

Biloela family to be reunited on mainland

  Biloela family to be reunited on mainland Immigration Minister Alex Hawke will allow a Tamil family that has been detained on Christmas Island to stay in Perth on a community detention placement.Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has decided to allow the Sri Lankan family to reside in the Perth community.

Given the Murugappans are not considered refugees and are not owed protection, the government wants them to go back to Sri Lanka.

But this family has an enormous amount of support; the Biloela community has been campaigning for them to return and even some within the government are urging the Minister to make an exception.

So what Mr Hawke has done today is buy himself some time.

Legal action before the courts means "there are several outstanding pathways" for the family to stay, according to the Minister, but none will lead to permanent resettlement.

"The government's position has been clear," he said.

"We do not believe anyone who has come by boat should be allowed to be permanently resettled in Australia."

In one case, Mr Hawke is being forced to consider lifting a "bar" allowing Tharnicaa to apply for a Temporary Protection Visa or a Safe Haven Enterprise Visa.

If he lifts that bar, and Tharnicaa's application succeeds, Mr Hawke said it would have a flow-on effect for her sister and parents.

"If a child is found to be owed protection, that then will impact the immigration status of family members here in Australia," he said.

Biloela asylum seeker family members touch down in Perth to be reunited with Tharnicaa

  Biloela asylum seeker family members touch down in Perth to be reunited with Tharnicaa The father and sister of the sick four-year-old Tamil asylum seeker medically evacuated to Perth from Christmas Island, where her family has been detained since 2019, arrive to support her and will be permitted to stay under a community detention order. A small group of supporters accompanied them to the island's airport and waved goodbye as the plane took off.More supporters gathered at Perth Airport to welcome them, carrying balloons and signs saying "Let Them Stay" and "Let them Live in Australia Permanently".The pair were taken in a car and driven to Perth Children's Hospital.

Mr Hawke can also intervene at any point, if there are "extreme or compassionate circumstances".

Why has the Minister intervened?

If Tharnicaa hadn't been rushed to Perth Children's Hospital last week, it is highly unlikely that the Minister would have released the family from detention.

While some within the Coalition believe it was a mistake to send the family to the remote island in the first place, costing taxpayers more than $6 million, few spoke out against the heavy-handed move.

But when distressing images of a terribly sick four-year-old girl emerged, it helped humanise Australia's hardline border policies and brought into sharp focus the Tamil family's protracted fight to stay.

The community-led campaign, backed by Labor, quickly gained support within government ranks.

Views on the family's fate, though, are divided and according to Mr Hawke, there is a great deal at stake.

"The people smugglers watch developments in Australia closely," he said.

"If [they] see a weakening in the border protection stance of Australia, they will restart the trade."

That assertion is contested by the family's lawyer, Carina Ford, who believes the Murugappans would be considered an "exceptional case".

"It doesn't mean the boats will continue," she said.

"We just need to move on and not make an example of these children."

Morrison needs to summon courage to act on Biloela family .
There is no defensible argument for why the Murugappan family shouldn't return to Biloela. Not one.Let me be blunt: there is no defensible argument for why the Murugappan family shouldn't return to Biloela. Not one.

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This is interesting!