Advertisement

Labor To Review Tamil Family's Deportation

Bill Shorten would reopen the case of a Tamil family who lost a High Court bid to avoid deportation, if Labor win Saturday's election.

Shorten appeared on The Project on Wednesday, ahead of the weekend poll, and was quizzed on a number of topics, including Labor's climate change and energy policies.

But in a last question, he was asked about the case of a Tamil family who had been living in the central Queensland town of Biloela.

The young family -- a mother, father and two toddler girls -- were arrested by Border Force officials last year.

Priya and Nadesalingam and their two Australian-born children. Photo: AAP.

They have been kept in immigration detention in Melbourne since. Their local community has rallied in support of the family, leading a strong social media campaign under the hashtag #HomeToBilo.

On Monday, a High Court bid to block the deportation of the family back to Sri Lanka was dismissed, meaning the family could be forced to leave Australia anytime.

READ MORE: Tamil Family With Australian-Born Children Lose High Court Bid To Avoid Deportation

Shorten, on The Project, was asked a video question by one of the supporters of the campaign. He made no promises about overturning the decision, but said that if Labor win the election, he will ensure their case is reviewed at least.

bill shorten project
Bill Shorten speaking on The Project.

"I'll ask my new immigration spokesperson to review the matter, because community sentiment matters. If the whole community wants to keep this precious family in their community, I think that's a good idea, not a bad idea," Shorten said.

He noted that the "really great" Biloela community has been campaigning to keep the family in Australia, but they had exhausted "a range of legal appeals" without a successful outcome.

READ MOREPeter Dutton Will Help Au Pairs, But Not These People Who Need Help

Shorten admitted he did not have all the facts of the case, and would not commit to one outcome or the other, simply that he wanted to give the case another look -- and called on the government to take no further action regarding the family's deportation until the election was over.

Australian born sisters three-year-old Kopika and baby Tharunicaa Image: Tamil Refugee Council.

"I'm promising to reopen the matter and give it consideration. Of course we've got laws, but I'm familiar with the struggle," he said.

"To me, this goes down to a core issue about immigration. If a community want some people to live with them, why are we making it so hard for them not to have that outcome?

"I would ask the government, don't send them back before the election. Of course, if we lose, it's out of our hands, but if we win, there's hope for that community."