2021-02-15 13:03:05 | Biloela family from Queensland awaits ruling in protracted fight to stay in Australia | Australian immigration and asylum


Story by: Luke Henriques-Gomes The Guardian

A Tamil family fighting deportation to Sri Lanka will soon learn if they are a step closer to returning to their home of Biloela in Queensland, more than 1,000 days after they were placed in immigration detention.

Priya, Nades, and their Australian-born daughters, Kopika, five, and Tharunicaa, three, were taken from their home and moved to Melbourne in March 2018 and have been detained on Christmas Island since August 2019.

Justice Mark Moshinsky ruled in April 2020 that Tharunicaa had been denied procedural fairness while seeking a protection visa and ordered the federal government to pay $200,000 in costs, prompting an appeal.

On Tuesday morning, the full bench of the federal court is expected to deliver its judgment in the long-running case.

A lawyer representing the family, Carina Ford, said in a statement on Monday there was no reason for the family to be in detention over the past few years.

“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,” Ford said.

“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 as of Tuesday this will occur.”

In August 2019, an urgent injunction prevented the family’s deportation to Sri Lanka.

The case was heard by the full bench over half a day in October. Moshinsky had found Tharunicaa had been denied procedural fairness because the immigration department had prepared a brief for the then immigration minister, David Coleman, informing him he could “lift the bar” to allow a visa application.

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The brief was prepared days before the 2019 federal election and Coleman did not act on it.

Guardian Australia has previously reported that under the Migration Act, people who arrive in Australia by boat cannot apply for visas while in Australia. Even though Tharunicaa was born in Australia, she is given the same visa status as her parents. But the immigration minister has the power to “lift the bar” to allow her to apply for a visa.

If the full court finds in the family’s favour, the government will need to properly consider Tharunicaa’s protection visa application. If the court upholds the government’s appeal, the family may file an urgent injunction while other legal avenues are pursued.

On Christmas Island, the family can only leave their accommodation to take Kopika to school, or to go to the recreation centre, and those trips must be authorised by Australian Border Force at least two days in advance.

They cannot visit friends on Christmas Island and they are escorted by security guards at all times.

“When [Kopika] goes to school, she is very happy but when she comes home, she’s really unhappy,” Priya told Guardian Australia in December.

Department figures provided to the Senate estimates process last month show keeping the family detained has cost $1.4m in the past year.

The family’s friends in Biloela have been campaigning for them to be allowed to stay in Australia. “We want them, we need them, we love them. Bring them home,” friend Angela Fredericks said in February 2020.

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Story continues…

Source References: The Guardian

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