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The family from Biloela will trade one cage for another

By TBS Newsbot

This morning, the Minister for Immigration announced that the family from Biloela will reside in Australia. The reality is quite different.

This morning, we suddenly had the whiff of change, as the Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke proclaimed that the Murugappan family from Biloela will be released from Christmas Island and be welcomed back to the mainland.

Per a statement, Hawke said that:

“I have exercised my power under section 197AB of the Migration Act to make a residence determination to allow the Sri Lankan family currently in held detention to reside in the Perth community.”

However, a liberal amount of salt should be added to the news, as Hawke also said:

“… in making this determination I am balancing the government’s ongoing commitment to strong border protection policies with appropriate compassion in circumstances involving children in held detention.”

Speaking of appropriate compassion, in May of 2019, one week after the Coalition was returned to power, the Department of Home Affairs made a series of recommendations to the then-Immigration Minister, David Coleman. The Department of Home Affairs said that the family has access to health and welfare services and their detention placement on Christmas Island was regularly reviewed. What’s more, the “Australian Border Force (ABF) has deemed the current placement suitable for the family,” the statement said.

Per Hawke:

“The family will now reside in suburban Perth through a community detention placement, close to schools and support services, while the youngest child receives medical treatment from the nearby Perth Children’s Hospital and as the family pursues ongoing legal matters.”

It’s worth noting that the family will remain in detention, and under guard. Under the ruling, the parents will not be able to work, nor will the girls be able to attend school. Indeed, they will not be allowed to return to the community that wants to see them return. As advocate Shane Bazzi noted, there are “lots of qualifiers in this statement. This is not good enough. Community detention is still detention. This family should be given a permanent visa and be allowed to return home to Biloela.”

Yet while this is no real solution, it seems that we should already have one.

Court documents filed and referred to in the Federal Court Decision in April 2020 revealed that the Department of Home Affairs recommended that the Tamil family from Biloela be granted substantive visas and “remain in Australia”.

It’s worth noting that the family will remain in detention, and under guard. Under the ruling, the parents will not be able to work, nor will the girls be able to attend school.

In February, the federal court dismissed the commonwealth’s appeal on a judgment that (Australian-born daughter) Tharunicaa was not “given procedural fairness when then immigration minister David Coleman considered lifting a bar preventing her from applying for an Australian visa,” per The Guardian.

Back in May of 2019, one week after the Coalition was returned to power, the Department of Home Affairs made a series of recommendations to the then-Immigration Minister, David Coleman. Those recommendations included that the Immigration Minister should exercise a number of powers to allow Tharnicaa, the youngest member of the family, to “allow the family to apply for a Temporary Protection Visa/Safe Haven Enterprise Visa” and significantly, “that he agrees to consider exercising Section 195A to grant the applicant and her family a substantive visa to remain in Australia.”

Despite these recommendations from Home Affairs to the Minister, on 29 August 2019, the family was nearly deported in a Skytraders plane out of Melbourne Airport. A last-minute injunction prevented them from being sent to Sri Lanka, and they have been held on Christmas Island ever since.

The lawyer representing the family, Carina Ford says:

“… it does not make sense that in May 2019 the family were recommended to be considered for a visa, but nearly two years later they remain in detention.”

“There are several Ministers who have always had the discretion within the immigration portfolio to release this family into the community while their legal matters are resolved,” says Ford. “That was the case in 2018, 2019, and 2020. It remains the case now, too. The family should be released immediately from detention and we hope that this will occur.” [Courier Mail, paywalled].

Priya and Nades have released a statement through their lawyers following the federal court decision:

“Thank you to everyone in Australia for the support and love that they have shown us. We are very grateful. It helps us stay strong. We just want to go back to Biloela. We need our little girls to be safe. Every day, they ask when can we go home?”

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.


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  1. Pete Petrass

    Given that this same government recently recently released a large number of hotel detention people into the community due to the cost of keeping them there…………..surely the same should apply to this family????? Why on earth can they not just be allowed to stay in Biloela until the legal stuff is sorted??? They are not terrorists, they are no threat to anyone, just do it!!!!!!!!!

  2. Cool Pete

    The Department of Home Affairs made a recommendation, but the EVIL BASTARD who held the portfolio in Government went against it!

  3. New England Cocky

    The White Supremacist policies of the Liarbral Nazional$ misgovernment are returning Australia to the 19th century, are unlikely to change until the 2021 early feral election ejects this Hell$ingers Choru$ from the Treasury benches and Australian voters can reclaim their Parliament form these unChristian cult followers for Greed and Paedophile Protection.

    There are no Christian principles in these decisions, only hatred, racism and fear of being personally insufficient.

  4. wam

    Albo, these children are australian who need the protection of their married in australia parents keep making a fuss

  5. Andrew J. Smith

    Doesn’t say much for ‘quiet Australians’ whose hard hearts and silence condones such actions based upon our appalling attitudes that have been developed by media, think tanks, MPs and society to view any non Anglo/Irish or European in negative terms (via imported US white nationalist tactics).

    I do not recall anyone complaining about the latter ‘white’ cohorts when they defy visa and immigration laws (often) and are detained for deportation. That’s because it has nothing to do with ‘rule of law’ but simply eugenics PR as government immigration policy, exemplified by someone in govt. who suggested that a return to ‘the white Australia policy’ would be a good idea.

    In this family’s case it’s not just the rule of law being broken and then supposedly encouraging others, hence, need to be made an example of, but it also mirrors the older white nationalist tropes. These were doing the rounds in the GOP pre Trump i.e. ‘anchor babies’ for citizenship then other family members follow by ‘chain migration’ also spoken of by Australia’s ‘best demographer’ Dr. Bob Birrell and influencers in the US……

  6. Andrew J. Smith

    By coincidence. related to my comment The Shovel comes out with a tongue in cheek titled article ‘English Backpacker Faces 3 Years In Island Prison After Overstaying Visa By A Day:

    ….. Hawke said the response was proportionate and reasonable, and sent a message to would be visa overstayers. “We need to set an example. We can’t have backpackers coming here, working part-time in a café in Bondi, overstaying their visa and expecting there to be no consequences.

    “It doesn’t matter where you come from, what your name is, or what you look like. Our border rules are there for a reason and we enforce them consistently”.

    Hawke said the 21 year-old would be one of 12,000 English, European and American backpackers being held on Christmas Island.’

  7. Terence Mills

    the parents will not be able to work, nor will the girls be able to attend school.

    Correct that the parents will not be able to work but the children will be able to attend school, probably under ABF escort.

    Interesting to hear a Tamil woman, now resident in Australia, on the ABC this morning. She said that as a minority, Tamils, are persecuted in parts of Sri Lanka and her reason for seeking refugee status in Australia was as a result of a fire bombing of her Tamil village that forced her family to hide out in the jungle before escaping. She says that as Tamils, the Biloela family would be the subject of ongoing persecution if returned to Sri Lanka.

    And purely as a cruel quirk of fate, the girls, having been born in Australia, would not be considered as Sri Lankan citizens even though we won’t recognise their citizenship here. Dual citizenship is not recognised in Sri Lanka so, the girls having been born in Australia (where they will not be recognised as citizens) effectively become stateless unless recognised by an act of registration in either country.

    The question is, who determined that the parents were not genuine refugees and thus were not entitled to our protection – I’ll give you a clue it wasn’t the UNHCR.

  8. Mr Bronte ALLAN

    For fucks sake why can’t this family be “allowed” to stay & live in Australia? EVERY fucking COALition member should hang their heads in shame at the disgusting & shoddy way the innocent family has been shafted so far! So much for Slo Mo’s “christian beliefs” (?) Disgusting treatment from ALL of you lying ,fucking dickhead, happy clapping bastards!

  9. Keitha Granville

    Good point Terence. The question of refugee status in ANY country on the planet should be a decision made by UNHCR every time, governments of any persuasion in any country should have no involvement at all as their decisions are based on their own ideolgies.

    Disgusting, disgraceful, unconscionable – beyond decency.

  10. Topenda

    If you write to any politicians, remind them the report heavily relied on by DFAT to reject the asylum claims has been found wanting.

    Reportedly, “DFAT was alerted to significant problems with the report in a detailed 14-page letter sent in October 2020 from international NGO, the International Truth and Justice Project, and the Australian Centre for International Justice (ACIJ).” []

    Searches will bring up many links regarding this issue. The United Kingdom Upper Tribunal is unimpressed and I believe there are UK appeals to decisions based on the report.

    I’m no lawyer, but I hope the family’s legal team are pursuing this line for appeal purposes as it seems to me using sloppy reports in decision making is an indication of a lack of due process.

  11. GL

    The LNP are “in charge” and that gives them the absolute right to do what they want and when they want. Never forget that they are the born to rule elite, except when their donors, 1%’ers, and The Rupert say otherwise.

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