We welcome today’s first announcement from Minister Hawke that the family will be reunited. Bringing this family back together is the first important step in getting them home to Bilo. At this stage it is unclear when Kopika and Nades will be reunited with Tharni and Priya.
We are pleased that the Department of Home Affairs is finally taking this family off Christmas Island, after more than three years of sub-standard care in immigration detention in Melbourne and on Christmas Island.
We acknowledge today’s second announcement by Minister Hawke, that the family will now be placed into community detention in Perth. We hope and assume this is only a temporary step. Community detention is no guarantee of safety and peace for this family.
Nades is keen to get back to work in Biloela to support his young family, which he cannot do while the family is forced into community detention. Priya wants to enrol Kopika at Biloela State School to continue her education. And we promised little Tharni a big birthday party when she got home.
Australia knows this family’s home is in Biloela.
We note that Minister Hawke has connected the community detention of the family in Perth to continuing legal action which has prevented the removal of the family from Australia.
The truth is that the courts have never had the power to assess the merits of this family’s refugee claims or grant visas. Under the Migration Act, only the Department and Ministers can do that. There are various visa types available to the Ministers that do not require the Government to recognise the family as refugees.
The Minister’s power to grant visas is completely independent from the decisions of any court. We cannot say what – or who – is preventing Minister Hawke from bringing this family home to Bilo. But it is not this court matter.