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.
After being locked up for years and now hospitalized, it feels like the little girl has been punished enough for her Australian-born * check note * crime. Let them go home to Biloela. Everything else is unacceptably cruel.
– Alex Lee (@alex_c_lee) June 9, 2021
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.
WATCH: Priya posted a video message from Perth Children’s Hospital, where little Tharni is being treated for a blood infection caused by untreated pneumonia.
– HometoBilo (@HometoBilo) June 8, 2021
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.
If the parents jailed their child for 3 years and denied her medical treatment until she nearly died from blood poisoning, the child would be taken away from them and they would be sent to jail. Why should government be treated any differently? #BiloelaFamily #auspol
– Craig Hill (@ CraigHill01) June 8, 2021
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.
Just to be clear. A stroke of the pen from the new Minister of the Interior @karenandrewsmp is all it takes to bring the family #hometobilo. They remain in custody now because Minister Andrews has so far chosen to follow in Dutton’s footsteps. It will define your office. Act wisely. pic.twitter.com/jOqv7JAzYY
– Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) June 7, 2021
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.
People tweet their outrage about little Tharnicaa and her family saying that is not who we are as Australians.
Unfortunately, that is what we have been for a long time now.
– Shalailah Medhora (@shalailah) June 8, 2021
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.
.@ mjrowland68: Does it bother you personally that we have a family, including two children born in this country, detained on Christmas Island?@DanTehanWannon: “Look, Michael, this is in court. I’m not going to comment on a case that is in court.” pic.twitter.com/aRv2s3robL
– News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) June 8, 2021
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.
– Cheryl Kernot (@cheryl_kernot) June 8, 2021
“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.
I’m just gonna leave it here
– 💧🔥🐨Bee🐝🐀PM for Sewer Rats (@ BelindaJones68) June 7, 2021