Greens Senator backs push to bring Biloela family home
A GRASSROOTS campaign to free a Tamil family from immigration detention and return them to their home in Biloela received a boost this week with a visit to Biloela from a prominent politician and refugee rights advocate.
Queensland Greens Senator Andrew Bartlett attended a Tamil feast at St Gabriel's Anglican Church on Wednesday evening, held to thank the community for their campaigning and to raise funds for legal aid and a billboard to put pressure on Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.
Mr Dutton could halt deportation proceedings against Nadesalingam and his wife Priya, whose bridging visas expired the day before they were taken from their homes in a dawn raid, and their daughters Tharunicaa and Kopika.
Senator Bartlett said he would ultimately like to see the laws changed on bridging visas and similar regimes, noting one man at the feast had been in Australia for six or seven years on a temporary visa.
But he said the short-term goal was for the immigration minister to step in and return the family to Biloela.
"This three-year-old kid has been jailed for five months now. (Peter Dutton) could fix that tomorrow," Senator Bartlett said.
"There's mountains of evidence that there's still major human rights dangers for many Tamil people in Sri Lanka, particularly those that are returned."
Senator Bartlett said he found it inspiring how the community had come out in support of Priya and Nades.
"When you remove the issue from the level of politicians trading barbs and rhetoric in parliament house and come down to the community level, you're talking about human beings and families," he said.
"It's such a misdirection of resources ... Imagine the amount of money that's been spent to lock them up for 150 days, and the huge number of people that came in here and dragged them all away.
"If that amount of money was invested in services in this community, imagine what sort of difference that would make."
Len Neale and his wife Fay also attended the feast and spoke with Senator Bartlett.
Mr Neale said it was easy to forget Biloela was largely built by immigrants
"Russians came here and built the railway lines, then there's Norwegian names everywhere like Kroombit and Kariboe," he said.