The 'Biloela' family

Like many Australians, Labor has long advocated that the Murugappan family - Priya, Nades and their two Australian-born daughters, Kopika and Tharunicaa Murugappan - be allowed to go home to Biloela, a town that loves them and wants them back. 

Labor Leader Anthony Albanese has asked questions in the House of Representatives about the family’s circumstances and urged the Morrison Government to allow them to return to Biloela.

As you may already be aware, Labor Senator Kristina Keneally travelled to Christmas Island to visit the family. She saw firsthand the effect of detention on Kopika and Tharunicaa.

These two Australian-born children have now spent most of their lives living in detention, while Mr Morrison has been claiming that he “got all children out of detention here in Australia” – a claim that is simply untrue.

Labor welcomes the decision from the Minister for Immigration, Alex Hawke, to personally intervene in the family’s case, granting bridging visas for Nades, Priya and Kopika.

Importantly, the Minister’s decision means Nades, Priya and Kopika are no longer in detention and are free to work, access services and support, and travel without significant restriction. 

It is disappointing that the Minister declined to use his personal discretionary power to grant a bridging visa to Tharunicaa. This little girl, born in Australia, remains in immigration detention in the community.  

Many Australians will be concerned that the Minister has only granted the three family members a 12-month bridging visa, and we share those concerns. 

There is now considerable support from both sides of politics for the release of this family – including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, broadcaster Alan Jones, and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

As has been the case all along, Mr Morrison and Ministers Andrews and Hawke can grant the Biloela family permanent protection and bring them home to Bilo with the stroke of a pen. 

Immigration ministers - including Ministers Dutton and Hawke - have made thousands of discretionary decisions each year to grant visas in circumstances like these, including on compassionate grounds.

It is past time for the Morrison Government to bring this sorry saga to an end and allow the family to go home to Biloela.

It is also time to stop the waste of taxpayer dollars: The Morrison Government has spent at least $50 million of taxpayer funds in detaining and attempting to deport the family.

It is time for Priya, Nades, Kopika and Tharunicaa to return home to the Queensland community that they love, and that loves them in return.