Biloela family: Video released of girls on shopping trip as Barnaby Joyce becomes Nationals leader again

Charlotte EltonThe West Australian
VideoBiloela girls go shopping in Perth as Barnaby Joyce confirms his support of family

The Tamil asylum seeker family held on Christmas Island for two years have gone on their first outing in Perth.

The so-called “Biloela” family have released a video of the trip to a shopping centre, showing four-year-old Tharnicaa Murugappan and her six year-old sister Kopika riding in a shopping trolley.

“This is my first time going on a trolley!” Tharnicaa beams at the camera. See the footage in the player above.

The little girl medically evacuated from Christmas Island to Perth Children’s Hospital with a suspected blood infection two weeks ago.

Her mother accompanied her from Christmas Island detention to Perth, but she was not reunited with her father Nades and older sister Kopika until last week.

Today, the family’s advocates welcomed the National Party Leadership spill making Barnaby Joyce leader.

“The new Deputy Prime Minister has long been an outspoken advocate for this family," said Angela Fredericks, a family friend.

"Now Mr Joyce is returned to the leadership, I hope he will continue to advocate for Priya, Nades, and their two Queensland-born girls.”

Speaking after Tharnicaa’s medical evacuation, Mr Joyce called for Nades, Priya, and their daughters to be returned to their adopted central Queensland hometown of Biloela.

“Tharnicaa and Kopika were born in Australia. Maybe if their names were Jane and Sally we’d think twice about sending them back to another country which they’re not from,” he said.

The family have spent more than three years in detention.

Priya and Nades, both Tamils, fled Sri Lanka after the country’s civil war. They met in Australia and married in 2014, and both were granted temporary visas before they settled in Biloela, where they had two daughters.

The family was taken to a detention centre in Melbourne after Priya’s bridging visa expired in March 2018. They were transferred to Christmas Island in August 2019.

They will stay in Perth community detention while their remaining legal battles play out in the courts.

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