Deportation Of Tamil Family Delayed Until Friday
The future of a Tamil family fighting to stay in Australia remains in limbo after their federal court case was delayed.
The Federal Court in Melbourne has extended an injunction preventing the Australian government from deporting Priya, Nadesalingam and their two Australian-born daughters Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 2, until 4pm on Friday.
Lawyers for the family argued that Tharunicaa had never been considered for a visa, but on Wednesday the court heard that the government had referred her case to Immigration Minister David Coleman and that the girl failed a protection assessment on Tuesday night.
The court ruled that lawyers for the family should be given time to consider the surprise development.
"We're still in uncertain territory but the fight is not over here," lawyer Carina Ford said outside court.
"Decisions can be made quickly. It doesn't necessarily mean that the case is over. It just means potentially it's got to be run in a a different way."
The family is being held on Christmas Island where they are expected to remain until the next court hearing.
Dozens of supporters, including members of Trades Hall and the Refugee Action Collective, gathered outside the Federal Court in Melbourne ahead of the decision.
Photo: Bring Priya, Nades and their girls home to Biloela via FacebookMany held photographs of the two young girls, others had banners reading "let them go home to Bilo," and "families belong together".
"They belong to this country," one advocate said as she addressed the growing crowd. "Their friends are here, their community is here, please let them go to Biloela. Seeking asylum is not a crime".
"Let's be clear that it is quite possible for Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton to make it a case that this family go home to Biloela," said another.
The crowd then chanted "let them stay"
A number of courts, including the High Court, has found the parents and the eldest child are not refugees and do not qualify for Australia's protection, but refugee advocates have held a number of rallies across the country demanding the government make an exception.
It's an exception that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has refused to make, claiming it would kick start a new wave of boat people.
"You must be consistent," he said on Wednesday. "Otherwise, you just send out the invitations".
"I know from bitter experience that if you make the wrong calls on these issues, then you invite tragedy and you invite chaos.
"This country has lived through that on two occasions... and I will not allow that to happen a third time on my watch," he continued
Labor leader Anthony Albanese, who is among the family's biggest supporters, called on the federal government to give in and let them stay, labelling the situation "publicly funded cruelty."
"You can have strong borders without losing your humanity and that's what this is about," he told ABC's 7.30 program.
He has travelled to Biloela to hear from the local community ahead of Friday's decision -- something he said Morrison should have done months ago.
Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has also called on the government to let them stay, so too has Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young
Amnesty International's Tim O’Connor has welcomed the court's decision to delay the case and has called on the federal government to listen to the community.
"The reality is, Minister Dutton can, should he wish, secure the future of this young family with the stroke of a pen, as he has already done in more than 4000 cases since his tenure began," he said.
“The extraordinary powers Minister Dutton has secured in his position as Home Affairs Minister and as the senior Minister in the department include the powers of Ministerial intervention, which specifically stipulate exceptional circumstances, including compassionate circumstances.”
Priya and Nadesalingam arrived by boat separately as asylum-seekers in 2012 and 2013. The couple later married in Australia and had two children, now aged four and two.
The family moved to the regional Queensland town of Biloela where they remained for close to four years before they were bundled up in a pre-dawn raid in March 2018 and transported to Melbourne.
Despite the Biloela community pleading with the government to let them stay, the family remained in detention until August 29
They were put on a plane bound for Sri Lanka, but their deportation was halted mid-air after a Melbourne judge granted a last-minute injunction.
Their plane landed in Darwin and within hours the family were quietly moved to Christmas Island where they claim they are isolated and alone, except for six guards who check on them every two to three hours.