Biloela family: Parents and older daughter granted bridging visas, but youngest misses out
Three members of the Tamil asylum seeker family fighting to return to their home in Biloela, Queensland, have received 12-month bridging visas.
But while Sri Lankan couple Priya and Nades Murugappan and their older daughter Kopika, 6, have been granted the year-long reprieve, younger daughter Tharnicaa has not.
In practical terms, the decision keeps the family in community detention in Perth as they continue their battle to avoid deportation and stay in Australia.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke granted the temporary visas after the family’s previous three-month bridging visas — also only issued to Priya, Nades and Kopika — expired on Wednesday.
Their fight to stay in Australia has spanned years and is supported by a high-profile campaign that grew from a grassroots group in Biloela to a huge national story.
Biloela resident and friend of the family Angela Fredericks said in a statement on Thursday Mr Hawke could have brought the “sorry saga to a close with the stroke of a pen”.
“Just like her sister Kopika, Tharnicaa was born in Queensland, and that’s where she and her family belong,” Ms Fredericks said.
“Experienced migration lawyers tell us they have never heard of a child being denied the same visa granted to other family members in this way.”
Priya and Nades arrived in Australia from Sri Lanka by boat in 2012 and 2013 seeking asylum, but were denied refugee status and have exhausted their appeals.
Kopika and Tharnicaa were born in Australia.
The family lived and worked in Biloela until March 2018 when their visas expired and they were removed from their home by immigration officials in an early morning raid.
They were then held on Christmas Island and transferred to community detention in Perth earlier this year after Tharnicaa developed a blood infection and needed urgent medical care.
Last month, the High Court declined to hear an appeal on behalf of Tharnicaa, whose lawyers argued against a law stating she cannot apply for a visa unless Mr Hawke allows her to under his ministerial discretion.
Originally published as Biloela family: Parents and older daughter granted bridging visas, but youngest misses out
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