As yet another petition does the rounds on social media, aimed at putting pressure on the Federal Government to release the Tamil Family that has been detained on Christmas Island for years, the new Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has ruled out the possibility of the family – which has two Australian-borne children – being resettled in New Zealand or the USA, let alone brought back to their Australian home in Biloela.
There was renewed hope the family’s future would be made clearer when Ms Andrews took over the Home Affairs Portfolio from Peter Dutton in a recent Federal Cabinet reshuffle, but so far that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Rather, Ms Andrews has continued to trot out the same tired old lines, telling media:
“We are going through the process now of investigating a range of resettlement options in relation to a number of different circumstances here in Australia,” but that she could not make public commentary because she did not want to “disrupt those negotiations.”
Removing family from detention is ‘not an option’
Bringing the family Australia, as well as settling them in New Zealand or the USA have all been raised as possibilities in the past, but the new Home Affairs Minister has firmly rejected all of these options – preferring to use taxpayer funds to keep them detained offshore.
To date, the family’s legal battle with the Federal Government has cost Australian taxpayers millions of dollars, which is especially wasteful considering so many people want the family to be returned to their home in Biloela, Queenslan where they had settled, found employment and developed strong friendships.
Costing taxpayers millions
The family was forcibly removed from their Biloela home during a dawn raid in 2019, and taken to a Victorian detention centre.
A last minute court injunction regarding baby Tharnicaa stopped the family from being deported back to Sri Lanka. They have since been detained on Christmas Island, at a cost of about $20,000 a day.
Last year, the Federal Court order the Federal Government (or rather, taxpayers) to pay the family more than $200,000 in legal fees and, with the battle continuing, it’s estimated the legal costs will continue to spiral.
Tharnicaa, now three-years old, was flown to a Perth hospital earlier this week after experiencing vomiting, diarrhoea and dizziness for several days.
She has been diagnosed with pneumonia and a blood infection. Hundreds of supporters turned up to hold a vigil outside the hospital.
Both the Premier of Western Australia and the Federal Opposition Leader have lobbied the Federal Government to end the family’s ongoing suffering, but the Federal Coalition has resisted the calls.
‘Publicly funded torture’
The Home Affairs Minister has the power to grant the family visas at any time, as former minister Peter Dutton did for a number of people, including two French au pairs for whom he obtained urgent visas
Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has described the Coalition’s conduct as “publicly funded torture.”
The sentiment of many is clear: shame, embarrassment and anger at the way the family has been treated by the Federal Government.
The United Nations has also called on Australia to remove the family from Christmas Island, and yet the Federal Government seems intent on keeping them detained.
The current Home Affairs Minister has not spoken about the very real possibility that the family may eventually be deported to Sri Lanka, despite the fact that parents Nades and Priya say they face persecution if they return.