UPDATE — 27 May 2022: The Murugappan family and Bring Them Home To Bilo campaign have released their first statements since it was announced the family can return to Biloela with bridging visas.

The new Labor Government announced the family would be able to return to the Queensland town of Biloela. According to the Bring Them Home To Biloela campaign, interim home affairs minister Jim Chalmers called them on Friday arvo.

In an Insta post, the campaign shared the great news. But they also pointed out the fact the family have only been given bridging visas instead of permanent protection.

“We have spoken with Priya and Nades and they share our overwhelming sense of joy and relief at this news, and we all welcome the decision to issue the entire family with bridging visas,” the campaign wrote. 

“But this family will never be safe until they have permanency in Australia.”

In the post, the campaign also shared a powerful message from Priya. She called on the Government to protect all refugees who come to Australia.

“My prayer is that the Government will make a change to the lives of every single refugee who comes here. All refugees are survivors. They need hope,” she said.

“I had the support of Nades and we had the support of the people of Bilo. But so many others don’t have that support.”

The Murugappan family will hopefully be leaving Perth in early June.

ORIGINAL — 27 May 2022

The Muragappan family will be allowed to return home to Biloela in central Queensland after the new Labor Federal Government granted the Tamil refugees and their two Australian-born children bridging visas.

Interim home affairs minster Jim Chalmers on Friday afternoon exercised his power under section 195A of the Migration Act 1958 to intervene in the case.

“The effect of my intervention enables the family to return to Biloela, where they can reside lawfully in the community on bridging visas while they work towards the resolution of their immigration status, in accordance with Australian law,” he said in a statement.

“I have spoken to the family and wished them well for their return. This decision will allow them to get ‘home to Bilo’, a big-hearted and welcoming Queensland town that has embraced this beautiful family.

“This Government remains committed to Operation Sovereign Borders and keeping people smugglers out of business. Australian border protection authorities will intercept any vessel seeking to reach Australia illegally and safely return those on board to their point of departure or country of origin.”

Anthony Albanese tweeted his government enabled them to come home, but unfortunately their future remains uncertain. They have not been offered permanent protection, only bridging visas.

They will be able to return to Biloela while they await their case to be resolved in court.

Nades and Priya came to Australia separately in 2012 and 2013 respectively. They arrived on boats as refugees fleeing persecution after the Sri Lankan civil war. They met and married in Australia in 2014 and had their two daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa here.

All four were taken into custody by Australian Border Forced and removed from Biloela in 2018 after their visas expired and a court found they were not owed protection as refugees.

They appealed in court but the judge found here was “no evidence to suggest the family still living in Sri Lanka was at risk” because the civil war ended in 2009. Their deportation was ordered but thwarted at the eleventh hour by an injunction lodged by the solicitors while their plane to Sri Lanka was in mid-air.

It landed on Christmas Island, where the Murugappan family remained for three years before they were flown to Perth in 2021 for medical evacuation after Tharni became ill.

The Muragappan family is currently in community detention in Perth.

Labor promised during its election campaign they would intervene to allow the family to return to Biloela.

Anthony Albanese told Nine Radio on Friday morning their situation has dragged on too long.

“We are a strong enough society to say that we should not treat people badly, in order to send a message to others. And it’s beyond my comprehension how this has gone on for so long, at enormous cost,” he said.

He’s absolutely right, but let’s use this moment to remember the refugees still trapped in onshore and offshore detention, prolonging cruelty against refugees who arrive by boat.

Former shadow home affairs minister Kristina Keneally confirmed Labor’s stance early in the election campaign and said people who came by boat would “be turned back or sent to Nauru”.

“No one who has attempted to come by boat since the operation of Sovereign Borders will be allowed to settle in Australia.”

Operation Sovereign Borders is the military-led response to asylum seekers and refugees arriving in Australia by boat introduced by the Abbott Government.

This came after Albanese changed his views on turning boats back in 2018. He’s previously been against it. But four years ago he said his mind had been changed because the boats had stopped so the strategy had worked.

Albanese’s made it pretty clear he wants to protect the refugees in the media spotlight but forget the rest.

This is a good day for the Murugappans and the Biloela community after years of torment. But spare a thought for those still behind bars. The fight is not over.