Biloela Tamil family deportation case: asylum seekers set to learn fate today | Australia news


Two Tamil asylum seekers and their Australian-born daughters are expected to be told whether they can remain in Australia when the federal court rules on their case on Thursday.

Priya, Nadesalingam and their children, Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 2, were sent to Christmas Island last month after the federal court granted an injunction preventing the government deporting Tharunicaa until the court application had been heard.

Justice Mordecai Bromberg is expected to make a ruling later on Thursday.

The case centres around the fact that until this week the government had not considered whether Tharunicaa was owed protection under Australia’s international obligations.

Under the Migration Act, people who arrive in Australia by boat cannot apply for a visa while in Australia. Even though Tharunicaa was born in Australia, she is given the same visa status as her parents. But the immigration minister has the power to “lift the bar” to allow her to apply for a visa.

After the case was launched, the home affairs department referred the case to the immigration minister, David Coleman, but he had decided not to lift the bar.

In an interlocutory hearing in the federal court on Wednesday, Bromberg delayed handing down a decision on whether to go to a full hearing after the barrister representing the family, Angel Aleksov, launched a new argument. He said a July 2017 ministerial determination from the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, had in fact lifted the bar preventing Tharunicaa from applying for a visa in 2017, and the bar remained lifted.

A visa application for Tharunicaa was made last week, and the family’s lawyers have argued the application must be assessed.

Labor has previously voiced its support for allowing the family to stay in Australia, but Dutton noted in the federation chamber on Wednesday that since parliament returned Labor has not asked a question or “uttered any word” about the family.

“I’ve been waiting in parliament for a question on this important issue that required the leader of the opposition to charter an aircraft and fly out to Biloela,” he said. “He came back here and has not said a word. He has not ever mentioned the case again.”

Shortly before Dutton’s speech in the very same chamber, Labor MPs Ged Kearney and Josh Burns both mentioned the plight of the family.



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