Australia Should Australia let the Biloela family stay, or would that open a Pandora’s box?
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.
In, author and ethicist Leslie Cannold presents two sides of an argument and then it’s over to you: what do you think is true, and what do you think Cannold really believes?
Today: Australia may not owe the Murugappan family protection but we should offer it anyway, or would that open the floodgates to all those who would demand similar treatment?
Yes: the immigration minister must stop making this young family suffer and let them return to Biloela. No: the minister should hold his ground and stick to the letter of the law.
Australia has no obligation under our Migration Act to grant the Murugappan family protection — well this was the crux of whattold 2GB’s Ben Fordham on Tuesday.
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.
“[The family’s claim to be refugees] has been through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Federal Court, the Federal Circuit Court, the full Federal Court and the High Court, and none of those judicial or administrative processes has found that we owe them protection.”
In a world without feelings and morality, this should be the end of it. Sure the family has a few outstanding claims being litigated by what Hawke called “activist lawyers”, but if they are unsuccessful, the law makes clear that removal from Australia is the next step.
This is particularly the case for asylum seekers who came by boat to Australia — which Priya and Nades did. Since 2013 they have been denied resettlement in Australia even if they are found to be refugees to deter others from making what is often a perilous journey by sea.
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.
Instead we send them to the United States or New Zealand to be resettled, even if they have children — as Priya and Nades do — who were born here.
But when now-four-year-old Tharnicaa got sick, and an image of her crying as her sister comforted her, set the Twitterverse on fire, the horror of these two little girls’ lives,, could not be denied.
This and the fact that the family had made a home in the Queensland town of Biloela where — as its citizens continue to inform us in no uncertain terms — they are loved, missed andis what’s driving the angst so many Australians feel.
Such visceral responses to the pain and need of others is what morality is all about. It almost certainly explains why so many successive governments have gone to such lengths to keep the individual names, faces and stories of asylum seekers out of newspapers and off TV screens. Because when normal people see suffering that they know can be alleviated they reach out a hand to help. If the cruelty is being perpetrated by their government, they contact their MPs to say: “Not in my name.”
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.
Hawke also thinks that because Australia is not legally obliged to resettle this family, it’s moral for us to wash our hands of them. This is mistaken. Just because we aren’t compelled, legally or morally, to do good, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Moral philosophers even have a name for such acts, which are the province of heroes and saints. They are called.
All of which means that Hawke should stop playing footsie with kindness and use the discretionary power the law gives him to do the virtuous thing: stop making this young family suffer and let them go home to Biloela for good.
It’s easy to get dewy-eyed about little girls in pink dresses. But before we pile on Hawke, it’s only fair to consider the wicked problem he’s trying to solve.
Australia’s undeniably harsh approach to asylum seekers who arrive by boat works. Since 2013 at least, turned back or deterred.
This is a mercy. Who can forget December 2010 when asmashed into the rocks around Christmas Island — Australia’s worst civilian maritime disaster in a century. Despite the frantic efforts of Australian Border Force and horrified locals who hurled flotation devices into the torrid waters, 50 lives of the 89 on board — including 15 children — were lost.
‘We are all compassionate': Ministerial decision on Biloela family within days
Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack says a decision about the future of a Tamil asylum seeker family will be based on humanitarian considerations as well as health and legal advice.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.
Although this was a turning point for our policy about boat arrivals, it was not isolated. In June 2012when a rickety and overloaded vessel sank in Indonesian waters on its way to Christmas Island. Not to mention the sinking of SIEV X during the Howard era in which .
It’s easy to be pushed and pulled by the tragedy we see in front of us. Now it’s the children of parents who survived such perilous journeys — but because the country they fled is no longer at war they must return to a place they’ve never known.
But what about the haunted look of children pulled from the water by Australian rescuers to learn they were now orphans? Or the multitude of those with visa problems who are contacting Nationals MP for Mallee, Anne Webster, because they’d like Hawke to look on their cases favourably, too.
It’s a tough choice, but one thing’s for sure. The decision Hawke makes to show mercy to the little girls from Biloela today will be the one that reporters, activist lawyers and others whose hearts are in the right place will want made for their pet cases tomorrow — and the next day and the next.
Which is why if Hawke’s smart, he’ll hold his nose, stick to the letter of the law, and see the Biloela case through to its logical end. Which means if the family loses its last-ditch efforts in the courts to stay in Australia, they’ll be removed to Sri Lanka.
Anything else means opening up the disaster on the seas, and the divisive policy debate that surrounded it, again.
Which side do you think Cannold sits on? And what do you believe? Send your thoughts towith Both Sides Now in the subject line.
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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.