Thu, 31 Mar 2022 - 10:46
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Murugappan family (Biloela)

Australia has one of the most generous humanitarian programs in the world. We do more than most to assist and resettle genuine refugees in need of protection. The success and breadth of our humanitarian program is only possible if we maintain an orderly and fair program.

The case of the Murugappan family has received widespread and often inaccurate media coverage.

Nadesalingam (Nades) and Kokilapathmapriya (Priya) arrived in Australia as Illegal Maritime Arrivals (IMA), meaning they paid a people smuggler and arrived in Australia illegally by boat. After arriving separately in Australia, they met and married and had two children, Kopika and Tharnicaa. For a time the family lived in Biloela in Queensland. Since 2012, the family’s claims to engage Australia’s protection obligations have been comprehensively assessed on a number of occasions by the Department of Home Affairs and various merits review bodies. The family has consistently been found not to be owed protection.

These decisions have also been the subject of judicial review, including in the Federal Magistrates Court, appeal to the Full Federal Court and applications for special leave to appeal to the High Court. Each of these applications have been dismissed.

Non-citizens who do not hold a visa and who have exhausted all outstanding avenues to remain in Australian are encouraged to depart voluntarily. Those unwilling to depart voluntarily will be subject to detention and removal from Australia, as has occurred in this case. Unlawful non-citizens are only removed if the Department is satisfied they do not engage Australia’s non-refoulement obligations and that removal would not breach Australia’s international obligations.

The Australian Government does not make, and nor should it make, visa decisions based on the level of media coverage or interest a particular case receives. To do so would not be fair to the Australian community who expect the Government to run an orderly immigration program. It would also be unfair to the several thousand other cases that do not receive the same level of community and media support.