MPs inside Morrison government call for end to the case of the Biloela family

Australian-born Kopika comforts her sister Tharnicaa. Picture:
Australian-born Kopika comforts her sister Tharnicaa. Picture:

Amid community anxiety and world attention over three years of immigration detention, a growing number of Coalition MPs are calling for the case of the Tamil family from Biloela to be brought to an end.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is considering whether to make a ministerial intervention into the case of Priya and Nades Murugappan - and their two Australian-born children Kopika and Tharnicaa - who have sought refuge in Australia since 2012 and are in the process of exhausting legal options.

They have been held in long term detention on Christmas Island which culminated last week in the youngest daughter Tharnicaa being medevac'd Perth after developing sepsis for untreated pneumonia. She had reportedly been unwell for 10 days before getting the help she needed.

She turned four on Saturday, her third birthday inside detention.

The Morrison government has a hard-line position on asylum seekers and several ministers have started that the government does not want to be seen to be encouraging a restart of the people smuggling trade by boat. It is understood Mr Hawke will make a decision within a fortnight to determine whether to intervene and lift the "bar" preventing Tharunicaa lodging another visa application.

Moderate Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman has made a representation to the Minister that he wants the family released and returned to their Queensland home.

"I think it's time we brought this to an end and brought them back to the mainland here," he told the ABC.

Dr Katie Allen is of the same view.

"We urgently need a timely resolution to a situation that is endangering the health and well-being of innocent children," the member for Higgins said.

"This has gone on for too long," she said.

"We must look at alternatives such as Section 195A of the Migration Act to solve the legal impasse and give this family a chance."

The paediatrician turned MP joins fellow Liberal Jason Falinski, and significantly, Nationals MP Ken O'Dowd, whose electorate includes the town of Biloela, in urging the Minister to set the family free from detention.

"He agrees with me it's gone on far too long," Mr O'Dowd told Nine newspapers.

"It's no good for the family, it's no good for the Australian taxpayer, it's not good for anyone and it's got to be resolved."

Federal Labor Leader Anthony Albanese wants the family released, as does Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

New South Wales Nationals MP Trevor Khan has also offered his support on Twitter, saying: "In this case there is but one option, and that is to let this family stay."

The Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews appeared to float the possibility of resettling the family in the United States or New Zealand, but later clarified her position by stating the the family was no eligible as they were not officially refugees.

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This story Tide turns in support for Biloela family to be released from Christmas Island first appeared on The Canberra Times.


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