The fate of a Tamil asylum seeker family detained on Christmas Island whose young daughter was medically evacuated to Perth hospital will be confirmed in days.
Priya and Nades Marugappan and their two daughters are fighting to be released from immigration detention, and their plight has attracted widespread attention.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke will this week rule if the family can return to their adopted home of Biloela in Queensland.
Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack said Mr Hawke’s decision would be based on “humanitarian considerations, health outcomes and legal advice”.
He described the Scott Morrison led government as “very humanitarian”.
Senior cabinet minister David Littleproud wants the Federal Government to find a compassionate solution but he has reiterated “no one is beyond the law”.
Speaking on Today, Mr Littleproud said he had “compassion” for the Marugappans, whose youngest daughter Tharnicaa is at present in a Perth hospital being treated for sepsis as a result of untreated pneumonia.
“The primary responsibility of the Federal Government is to keep its borders secure and people secure,” he said.
“Sometimes the laws we put in place have unintended consequences, but no one is beyond the law in this country.”
Mr Littleproud said a decision from Mr Hawke “about how we can do something not just with compassion but fairness” was likely imminent.
“I think over the coming couple of days the immigration minister will make a determination.”
The family have been living in immigration detention on Christmas Island since 2019, after they were removed from their home in Biloela by Border Force officers in 2018.
Last night, nine Australian peak medical bodies called for the Federal Government to immediately let the Marugappans return to Biloela.
“We can’t have a public campaign,” Mr Littleproud said.
“We need to let the rule of law take place, no one is beyond the rule of law.”
Some within the Coalition are divided over the Marugappans.
A growing group of Coalition backbenchers is calling for an end to the saga, while others remain steadfast in the belief that granting the Marugappans residency will set a dangerous precedent.
Katie Allen, the Liberal member for Higgins, said “this has gone on too long”.
“We urgently need a timely resolution to a situation that is endangering the health and well-being of innocent children,” Ms Allen said in a social media post.
Mr and Mrs Marugappan are both Tamil, a group that has been persecuted in Sri Lanka.
They have an older daughter, Kopika.
Both girls were born in Australia.
‘How long does it take?’
Labor leader Anthony Albanese stepped up calls to bring the family to Australia permanently.
“Look, how long does it take?” Mr Albanese said today.
“I visited Biloela in 2019. I met with the local community leaders and in 2019, after I became leader of the Labor Party, I said that this family should be settled home to Bilo.
“That is what the local community want. You have a local dad who works at the meat factory.
“You have a local mum who is a volunteer in local charities and is a part of the local community, and these two beautiful little girls have spent almost all of their life now in detention.
“A family that was rounded up in the middle of the night and taken off to Victoria and then sent to Christmas Island at an enormous cost to the Australian taxpayer.
“Enough is enough. This family need to be settled. We’re a better country than this.
“And this family are not a threat to Australian sovereignty or Australian borders.
“They’re Australian citizens, these two little girls, or they should be, and they should be looked after here.”
Mr Albanese called on Mr Hawke to make the discretionary decision to settle the family in Australia.
“This is about a minister being able to use his ministerial discretion or hers in order to settle this family,” he said.
“This should have happened in 2019. And there is ministerial intervention in hundreds and hundreds of cases every year based upon the particular facts which are there.
“The particular facts here are that this mum and dad are wanted as valued members of this regional community in Biloela.
“These two little girls were born here.
“They should be allowed to stay and they should be able to go home to Bilo where they are valued members of their community.”