BRING THEM HOME: Biloela is already a multi-cultural community largely due to the meatworks and the farming industry.
BRING THEM HOME: Biloela is already a multi-cultural community largely due to the meatworks and the farming industry.

Hopes fading for Biloela family as government remains firm

HOPES are dimming for a Biloela family desperate to stop their deportation back to Sri Lanka.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison today ruled out any Ministerial intervention as the family waits on Christmas Island.

Their only remaining chance now lies with the lawyers' and a last-minute bid to the Federal Court.

Vigils were held around the country on Sunday for Nades, Priya and their daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa, who were born in Australia.

 

The Biloela community vigil on Sunday.
The Biloela community vigil on Sunday.

Former Biloela resident Dan Coxen spoke out at the Yeppoon vigil saying, regardless how Nades and Priya arrived in Australia, they had passed the character test.

Mr Coxen, his wife Sophie and their two young daughters moved to Yeppoon 18 months ago, but before that their girls attended the same playgroup as Kopika and Tharunicaa in Biloela.

Sophie knew Priya through playgroup and they would sometimes meet up for play dates.

Mr Coxen said Priya was known for bringing curries to share with the playgroup mothers and nurses at the hospital.

 

Dan Coxen's daughters Emily 4 and Charlotte 6 went to playgroup with Kopika and Tharunicaa in Biloela.
Dan Coxen's daughters Emily 4 and Charlotte 6 went to playgroup with Kopika and Tharunicaa in Biloela.

Although he didn't know Nades personally "because he was off working and paying taxes and so was I", he said he knew him to be an extremely hard worker.

"These are the types of people we want living here. They are contributing to a country town that is dying," he told The Morning Bulletin yesterday.

"They are hard workers who want to work, the sort of people we want in this country."

Mr Coxen said the couple became very good friends with people in Biloela and by moving to a regional town were doing "exactly what Peter Dutton said he wants".

Biloela's meatworks and farming community rely heavily on migrant workers and both Nades and Priya were involved in migrant groups and teaching English.

"People in those industries understand it can be problematic to get Aussies to work, but migrants are willing to work hard and allow those industries to continue," Mr Coxen said.

"They could have stayed in Melbourne on benefits, but they chose to come to Biloela for the work opportunities and to make a life for themselves.

"They were a normal Bilo family.

"

Dan Coxen
Dan Coxen Jann Houley

This decision is down to the Prime Minister and the Minister's discretion. They've certainly employed it in other cases, and they need to listen to the people of Biloela now."

Ministerial discretion has now been ruled out with the Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton both making their position clear.

In a lengthy opinion piece, Mr Dutton he said thousands of people were helped every year on compassionate grounds but the public rarely heard about those cases because they did not seek media attention.

"The mother and father ... were part of the 50,000 people who arrived on 800 boats under Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard," he said.

"Labor initially put them into detention, and they were told all those years ago that, on the details they provided, they were not refugees under the UN definition so they would have to go home.

"... They never accepted that decision ... They have gone on to appeal to the Federal Magistrates Court, the Federal Court and the High Court, costing the Australian taxpayers millions of dollars.

"They have explained their circumstance to every decision maker and judge and every one of them has rejected their claim for protection."

Mr Dutton said the civil war in Sri Lanka was over and Tamils from around the world had returned and been accepted back, including 1500 from Australia with similar stories.

 

 

Emotional scenes in Biloela as the community came out in support of the family they say belongs there.
Emotional scenes in Biloela as the community came out in support of the family they say belongs there.

"At the same time, we have brought refugees in who, in many cases faced imminent death or persecution, and their cases are much more compelling than those who are not refugees but simply want a stronger financial future for their families," he said.

"... I have not had one death at sea on my watch and I don't intend to let that happen now.

"We won't take a moral lecture when the reality is, we have a compassionate approach that is helping thousands each year ...

"Advocates claim a high moral ground, but their approach results in people dying.

"Other Sri Lankan families with beautiful young children were part of the 1200 who died at sea, and they shouldn't be forgotten in this debate.

"There have been six Sri Lankan ventures that have been intercepted, disrupted or failed already this year.

"The people smugglers are alive and well and watch all of these cases very carefully...

"They will look for any opportunity to market and sell their evil product.

"We have got all of the children out of detention who were put there by Labor and we are not returning to the days of hundreds drowning helplessly at sea."

Senator Matt Canavan defended Mr Dutton and said the Australian processes worked well and "we should respect them".

"None of us know all of the detail the Minister and courts have had to assess in coming to this decision," Senator Canavan said.

"We accept more people as a percentage of population than almost any country in the world, and we are right to do so.

"I know Peter Dutton well and he's a very fair minister. These kinds of decisions shouldn't be made through the media."

A final decision will be made at a Federal Court hearing tomorrow at 4pm.