Karen Andrews, take them home to Australia

The Minister of the Interior has a decision to make on the future of the Biloela family, but will she take the right one?

As outrage continues to mount over the medical evacuation of a three-year-old girl forced to live on Christmas Island, all eyes have turned to the politicians who tricked her and her family , known as the “Biloela family” there.

Australia failed the Murugappans after their desperate attempts to stay in the Queensland town of Biloela as refugees from Sri Lanka.

The family have been in a detention center on Christmas Island since August 2019. Although their two daughters were born here, they and their parents are considered “illegal sea arrivals” in the eyes of the law.

Neighbors described the family as generous, caring and active members of the Biloela community, the Guardian reported at the time.

Their journey over the past three years has been a thorny back-and-forth. After their temporary visas expired in 2018, their home was searched and the family was sent to a detention center in Melbourne, before being put on a flight back to Sri Lanka.

Lawyers intervened, they were brought back to Melbourne, then placed on a second flight to Sri Lanka, before further legal interventions and, finally, an offshore facility was reopened just to contain the Murugappans, where they have been since. .

“Please help us get her out of detention and bring her back to Biloela,” Tharnicaa’s mother said in a video message yesterday, cradling her daughter in her arms in a hospital ward.

But the Murugappan family is unlikely to ever set foot in Australia again. Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in an interview that the United States and New Zealand are being explored as alternative options for their resettlement.

The final decision rests with newly appointed Home Secretary Karen Andrews, who has the opportunity to show the kindness and humanity that will define the start of her new post.

She is following in the footsteps of her predecessor Peter Dutton, who said last year that the family of four used “every tip from the book to make sure they can stay” in their Queensland community.

This is of course not the first time that the country has been disgusted by the way the Biloela family has been treated. Protests have taken place across the country since 2019, including for the third anniversary of their detention earlier this year, as well as vigils this week over the medical situation of their youngest daughter.

It shouldn’t take a child with life-threatening infections for policies to reflect a moral compass, and the Liberal Party has instead chosen to follow a hard line of caution and deviation.

Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Dan Tehan was pushed this morning on ABC’s News Breakfast to try to see the Biloela family’s situation from a different perspective, asking if that caused him personal unease that children born in Australia were detained.

As might be expected, Tehan declined to comment, except to reiterate that the case is currently in court.

Likewise, at a press conference yesterday, Andrews stood next to the Prime Minister as he skirted the future of the Biloela family.

“This is a case that goes through the legal process that they initiated,” said Scott Morrison. “There are currently medical issues involving the family and they will continue to receive full medical attention.”

“We are currently exploring a range of relocation options depending on a number of different circumstances here in Australia,” Andrews said.

“I can’t comment publicly on this at this time because I don’t want to disrupt these negotiations.”

“This applies to all cohorts, to all groups, not specifically [this case]Morrison concluded.

When political pride overshadows values ​​and a vulnerable family is reduced to nothing more than a role model, we must ask ourselves who our elected government really represents.

Meanwhile, five-year-old Kopika is sitting in a closed building nearly 3,000 kilometers away, desperately awaiting her sister’s return, with the hope that her family can once again live a normal life outside of her home. detention.




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