Culture

Peter Dutton Has Refused To Save Biloela’s Beloved Tamil Family From Deportation

He was happy to make an exception for the au pairs, but not a beloved family.

biloela asylum seekers

Peter Dutton has refused to step in to save a Tamil asylum seeker family from deportation, despite a massive community campaign to let them stay. This is the same Peter Dutton who stepped in, inexplicably, to grant express visas to several au pairs in 2015, but apparently, he’s not feeling as compassionate these days.

You’ve probably heard of the Tamil family in question before — before Priya, Nades and their two young daughters were detained by the Border Force almost a year ago, they were living happily in the Queensland town of Biloela, which has been campaigning tirelessly for the family’s return.

Members of the community took over an episode of Q&A back in May 2018 calling for the family to be returned home. A petition calling for the family to be returned, started by Biloela resident Angela Fredericks, has amassed over 165,000 signatures.

And yet at the end of the day, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has decided to do nothing, despite having the power to step in and allow the family to stay,  because “the family has gone through multiple court processes. At every single turn they’ve been found not to be refugees.”

Technically, Dutton is right: legally, the family have not been found to be refugees, though there are fears that they will face persecution if they are deported to Sri Lanka.

Nades and Priya both arrived in Australia by boat (via Christmas Island) in 2012-13. They didn’t know each other at the time, but met after being transferred to Queensland. Both of their daughters were born in Australia, and the town of Biloela describes the family as much loved members of the community. They lived happily there until March 2018 when they were taken into detention over a bridging visa that had expired by just one day.

In short, this family has done basically everything this country demands of migrants: settled in a small town, taken up jobs and volunteering roles, become part of the community. But in Dutton’s eyes, because they came by boat and haven’t been found to be refugees, there’s no mercy for them, and they will be deported.

The family can be deported to Sri Lanka from February 1. Their only hope of staying here is if Dutton, or Immigration Minister David Coleman, steps in to grant them a visa. The family’s supporters are urging anyone who can to call or contact Coleman before then.