The Sri Lankan Tamil family of Priya and Nades Murugappan seeking asylum in Australia have been allowed to remain on Christmas Island by the decision of the full Federal Court upheld a previous ruling relating to the immigration status of their youngest child.
Priya and Nades Murugappan are both unauthorized maritime arrivals who came to Australia by boat and sought asylum. While their applications were pending they were released into the Australian community. They with their Australian-born daughters Kopika, 5, and Tharunicaa, 3, were living in Biloela in central Queensland while waiting for the outcome of their application to stay. They were good locals in their community and the locals quite liked them and considered them to be a part of the local community.
They were unsuccessful in their applications and in 2018 immigration officials transferred them to a Melbourne detention centre before being readied for deportation.
Fighting their deportation, they filed an application on technical legal point claiming Tharunicaa’s application was not given due consideration and hence she was denied procedural fairness.
A last minute injunction (practically eleventh hour intervention by the court) allowed them to be taken of the deportation queue and ever since they have been in the Christmas Island detention centre. The court found that the issue of denial of procedural fairness to Tharunicaa was an issue that needs to be decided and hence the stay on deportation.
The family had a little win last year when the Federal Court ruled Tharunicaa was denied “procedural fairness” in an assessment by the Federal Government.
The Federal Government appealed to the full bench of the Federal Court, and on Tuesday the court ruled that Justice Mark Mochinsky’s original ruling stands.
While the family is considering their option of seeking High Court’s leave to appeal further, a statement from the Department of Home Affairs says it was considering the court’s decision and its implications.
The Australian Government’s policy is clear — no-one who attempts illegal maritime travel to Australia will be settled in Australia.
“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, various merits review bodies, and appealed though multiple courts, including the Federal Court to the High Court”, the statement further said.
“At no time has any member of the family been found to be owed protection.”
The department actively encourages “non-citizens who do not hold a visa and who have exhausted all outstanding avenues to remain in Australian are encouraged to depart voluntarily.
As happened in the present case, those unwilling to depart voluntarily become the subject of detention and removal from Australia.
It is difficult for the children while Priya and Nades Murugappan fight the deportation to win a chance to settle in Australia to live in “peace and safety”.