Peter Dutton: ‘Why Tamil family must go’

EVERY migration case is complex and there are hundreds of cases each year where we grant visas to families with sick children, elderly visitors to our country who have fallen ill or people who have heartbreaking stories otherwise.

In every case the detail is scrutinised and on compassionate grounds yearly we help literally thousands of people including the primary applicant as well as their family members.

The public rarely hear the detail of that compassion because the individuals don't seek media attention.

Nades Murugappan with wife Priya and children Kopika, 3, and Tharunicaa, 21 months, were living in Biloela but now face deportation. Picture: Supplied
Nades Murugappan with wife Priya and children Kopika, 3, and Tharunicaa, 21 months, were living in Biloela but now face deportation. Picture: Supplied

The case of the family from Sri Lanka is also a complex case and has attracted a lot of media attention with many false claims by refugee advocates and Labor opportunists.

The mother and father arrived illegally by boat in 2012 and 2013 respectively. They were part of the 50000 people who arrived on 800 boats under Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard.

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 were told that they would never settle permanently in Australia, just like many others who arrived by boat. 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.

That is that they are not refugees.

The UN estimates there are some 68 million people in the world today who similarly want a better life.

The civil war in Sri Lanka is now over and Tamils from around the world have returned to their country and have been accepted back by a democratically elected inclusive Government.

It is true though that Sri Lanka still doesn't have the industry, welfare system or job opportunities we enjoy in Australia.

Apart from the family in question, 1500 other Sri Lankan's with similar stories who arrived in Australia by boat have already been deported back to Sri Lanka and others will follow.

They have done so safely and have re-started their lives in a country now marked by peace and not war.

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

It's not that this family or those in the 68 million figure are unworthy or not sincere in their desire to live in Australia. The reality is our Government, with the support of the majority of Australians, has taken tough decisions over a number of years now to keep our borders secure and people off boats.

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.

The other reality is that we have a cap of 18750 refugee places each year and we take those most in need. In the year before last, which included the Syrian intake, we took more people through our Offshore Program than in any year over the last 30.

That is not a fact you will hear acknowledged by the advocate groups and Labor leaders who are still guilty that their management of our borders saw 1200 people drown at sea.

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

The Ministers in that period would still live with the images and briefings of children half eaten by sharks and others placed in detention.

We won't take a moral lecture when the reality is we have a compassionate approach that is helping thousands each year, but where somebody has been told consistently all the way through to the High Court that they are not refugees, then those people have to return back to their country of origin.

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.

We do have to make tough decisions in some cases and compassionate decisions in others. We have been fair, clear and consistent for a long time: we are not allowing people who arrive by boat to settle in Australia.

This family had been told long before they had children that there was never a prospect of them remaining in Australia.

Like many other countries, Australian law provides that children born here to non-citizens adopt the status of their parents. If the opposite was the case, that is if children born in Australia to non-citizens automatically became citizens, and by extension their parents, there would be many more than 50,000 people arriving by boat and having children on arrival.

There has 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.

Peter Dutton is Home Affairs Minister