Only three members of the Murugappan family aka the Biloela family (Priya, Nades and Kopika) have been granted 12-month bridging visas to stay in Australia. Meanwhile, the government has chosen not to grant one to Australian-born Tharnicaa.
Why would the government do this? Well this means that the family cannot return to Biloela and must stay in Perth community detention, SBS reports.
“Our clients are relieved that three family members have had their bridging visas extended by a year today – this is a step in the right direction,” the family’s lawyer Carina Ford said on Twitter.
“To make it clear, the Minister has chosen not to use his public interest power to release the youngest child from community detention, meaning the family cannot return to Bilo and will remain in Perth.”
The Murugappans were living and working in the Queensland regional town of Biloela, before their bridging visas expired and they were sent to a detention centre on Christmas Island in 2018.
This year Tharnicaa was medically evacuated from Christmas Island with a blood infection and was transported to a Perth hospital. The Biloela family were then granted bridging visas while Tharnicaa received medical care.
Since then the family have become “political footballs” with the Immigration Minister Alex Hawke refusing to use his powers to grant the same visa to Tharni.
“With the stroke of a pen, Alex Hawke could’ve simply let the Biloela family go home to Bilo. He has the power!” Labor home affairs spokesperson Kristina Keneally wrote on Twitter.
“12-month bridging visas is good news, but using Tharni to keep them in Perth – 4,500 kilometres from Bilo – is unfair.”
With the stroke of a pen @AlexHawkeMP could’ve simply let the Biloela Family go #hometobilo. He has the power!
12-month bridging visas is good news, but using Tharni to keep them in Perth – 4,500 kms from Bilo – is unfair
Bilo loves them and wants them home https://t.co/qQbblizBwG
— Kristina Keneally (@KKeneally) September 23, 2021
In community detention, the family will still be supervised but won’t be allowed to live like normal members of society. It’s disappointing to say the least, but not all surprising from a government who values taking a VIP flight for Father’s Day, over granting visas to valued members of our community.