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Western union: Family reunited in Perth, but Qld return no closer


A Tamil family detained on Christmas Island for the past two years has been allowed to reunite after the youngest daughter was medically evacuated with her mother to Perth.

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A charter flight on Tuesday night brought father Nades Murugappan and his six-year-old daughter Kopika from the island to the WA capital to join wife Priya and ill four-year-old daughter Tharnicaa.

But the family is no closer to returning to their Queensland home in Biloela despite now being allowed to live in community detention in Perth, where Tharnicaa is being treated for pneumonia and sepsis at Perth Children’s Hospital.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is yet to make a decision on whether any of the family members can reapply to stay in Australia.

“Today’s decision does not create a pathway to a visa,” Hawke said on Tuesday.

“I will consider at a future date whether to lift the statutory bar presently preventing members of the family from reapplying for temporary protection, for which they have been previously rejected.”

Hawke said “everyone has compassion towards the … two beautiful little girls” but granting a permanent visa to the family would “absolutely” start a flood of people-smuggling boats.

The family lived in Biloela before being taken into immigration detention.

Labor has joined with the Biloela community in calling for the family to be returned to the town.

“The Biloela community has made it clear that they want Tharnicaa’s family to come home. Why won’t the government let this family go home to Bilo?” Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told parliament on Tuesday.

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack described the situation as difficult and challenging before launching an attack on Labor over border protection.

“When we took government in 2013 there were over 8000 children in detention centres. Labor put more beds in detention centres than they ever did in hospitals,” he told coalition colleagues.

The family has been locked up since 2018 while their fight against deportation has gone through the courts.

The family will be able to stay in community detention after Tharnicaa is released from hospital and remain in Perth until their legal case is resolved.

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