Biloela family wins case in Federal Circuit Court

A week later, Mr Hawke granted 12-month bridging visas to parents Priya and Nades and their six-year-old daughter Kopika, but no visa was granted to four-year-old Tharnicaa.

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‘Ongoing saga’

The case before the Federal Circuit Court did not apply to Tharnicaa as she currently has a brief of her case before Mr Hawke. 

Ms Ford said it’s now up to the government to decide what the next move will be. 

“They can choose to appeal or they can choose to leave it as it is, which means then it’s open to the family to renew a bridging visa later down the track,” she told SBS News.

“It’s also open for the government to consider whether it’s in the interest of both parties to just continue the ongoing saga of this case.”

With the family’s visas set to expire in September, their future remains uncertain – even despite Monday’s court win.

Ms Ford hopes the decision will put more pressure on the government to “resolve the issue once and for all” and grant the family visas so they can return to their hometown of Biloela in Queensland. 

“There’s over 600,000 who’ve signed a petition request the family to be returned to Biloela,” she said.

“I think the overwhelming consensus in the Australian community is that the family should be returned.”

The Murugappan couple Priya and Nadesalingam with their Australian-born children Kopika and Tharunicaa.

Source: Supplied

The family’s friend Simone Cameron is also urging the immigration minister to exercise his power of ministerial discretion to give the family a more permanent solution. 

She said because the Minister chose not to grant a visa to four-year-old Tharnicaa, she remains in community detention and so the family is unable to leave Western Australia.

“This is not the first time that the courts have found that a decision by one of Scott Morrison’s ministers was made in an unfair way,” Ms Cameron said.

“But the reality is that Australia’s immigration laws have given Mr Morrison’s ministers almost unlimited power to intervene in people’s lives, by giving or taking away the right to stay in Australia.

“After everything Mr Morrison’s ministers have put this family through, holding Tharni in ‘community detention’ when her mum, dad and sister are technically free to travel to Biloela is a strange way to exercise those powers.”

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What’s the story of the Murugappan family?

The Tamil asylum seeker family has been living in community detention in Perth since they were released from Christmas Island last year.

Priya and Nades married in Australia after fleeing Sri Lanka’s civil war and arriving separately on people smuggler boats in 2012 and 2013.

The family had been living in Biloela since 2014 until they were taken from their home in a dawn raid in March 2018 and detained.

Their time in the detention facility was brought to an end after Tharnicaa was medically evacuated with a blood infection that left her gravely ill.

The couple said they face persecution if deported to Sri Lanka but the government has claimed the family will never be permanently resettled in Australia.

SBS News has contacted the Minister for Immigration and the Department of Home Affairs for comment. 

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