Biloela Tamil Family Moved To Christmas Island In Dead Of Night
The Sri Lankan family battling deportation has now been moved to the notorious Christmas Island detention centre, with supporters "horrified" after they were quietly moved yesterday.
Furious last-minute legal negotiations and orders on Thursday and Friday saw Priya, Nadesalingam and their two Australian-born daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa avoid immediate deportation.
However, after first being moved from Brisbane to Melbourne, then to Darwin late on Thursday, the family has now been shunted around again -- this time to the Christmas Island detention centre, far off the coast of Australia.
The 'Home To Bilo' campaign claimed early on Saturday that the family had been moved to the offshore detention facility sometime on Friday, in news that "horrified" supporters.
"Amid much speculation as to what the Australian Government’s plans were for this family, the Department of Immigration lawyers assured the family’s lawyer that there were no plans to split the family, and that they were being held in Darwin," the campaign said in a statement.
"At that point contact was lost again, and it wasn’t until nearly 2am AEST that contact was re-established with the family once they arrived at the Christmas Island detention centre."
“This is the second flight in as many days under the cover of darkness, taking this family even further away from the support of the community that loves them,” said family friend and journalist Rebekah Holt.
Carina Ford, a lawyer representing the family, said she had been contacted by the Department of Home Affairs with information that the family would be moved to Christmas Island. Ford said it was a "concern" that lawyers no longer had convenient access to the family, and said the transport had been "traumatic".
The Christmas Island detention centre was quietly closed in October 2018, but then reopened amid controversy after the refugee 'medevac' laws were passed, with the government claiming it would house some Manus Island or Nauru refugees there instead of bringing them to Australia. Former inmates told 10 daily the centre was a "living hell".
In the April federal budget, the government said it planned to close Christmas Island's centre by July, but that deadline has not been met.
Just last week, Department of Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo told a Senate inquiry that zero people had actually been transferred to Christmas Island since the centre reopened, meaning the Biloela family could be the first asylum seekers to be taken there.
Contacted by 10 daily, the Department of Home Affairs would not comment on why the family had been moved to Christmas Island.
"Since 2012, the family’s claims to engage Australia’s protection obligations have been comprehensively assessed on a number of occasions by the Department of Home Affairs and various merits review bodies," a spokesperson for the department said.
"The family has consistently been found not to be owed protection."
"Since 2012, the family’s claims to engage Australia’s protection obligations have been comprehensively assessed on a number of occasions by the Department of Home Affairs and various merits review bodies. The family has consistently been found not to be owed protection."
"As this matter is before the courts it would be inappropriate to comment further."
The Tamil asylum seeker family, who lived in the Queensland town of Biloela for four years, were on Thursday granted an eleventh-hour injunction against their deportation.
A plane carrying the young family was ordered to land in Darwin after it had already taken off from Melbourne, en route to Sri Lanka.
Labor's immigration spokesperson, Kristina Keneally, slammed the news on Saturday morning, calling it a "cruel political play".