Send them to Lanka? Aussie Opinion Poll on the Nadesalingam Murugappan Case

Geoff Chambers in The Australian, 10 September 2019, where the heading runs Most back kicking out asylum-seekers who aren’t refugees”

Most Australians believe that asylum-seekers deemed not to be genuine refugees should be deported regardless of other considerations. A Newspoll survey conducted last week showed 64 per cent of voters believe asylum-seekers who are considered by the courts to not be refugees should be deported, with 24 per cent saying they should be allowed to settle in Australia.

Following publicity last week surrounding the case of a Sri Lankan Tamil family facing deportation, the Newspoll survey showed 56 per cent of Labor voters supported deportation of asylum-seekers found to not be refugees, with 31 per cent saying they should be allowed to stay in Australia.The poll, based on 1000 interviews with voters across the nation from September 5-7, reveals stronger support for deportation in the 35-years-plus age groups, with more men than women agreeing asylum-seekers ineligible for refugee status should not be allowed to stay.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese last week led a push to allow Nadesalingam “Nades” Murugappan and Kokilapathmapriya “Priya” Nadarasa to stay in the country.

The couple, who settled in Biloela on bridging visas and whose daughters, Kopika and Tharunicaa, were born in Australia, arrived from Sri Lanka on boats in 2012 and 2013. The High Court dismissed their bids for appeal after being deemed to not be refugees. Their eldest daughter, Kopika, was also considered to not be a refugee. The family, who lived in the central Queensland town for more than three years, have been moved to Christmas Island awaiting the outcome of a legal case for Tharunicaa. The final legal bid will return to the Federal Court on September 18. That case is centred on whether the youngest daughter is eligible for protection.

According to Newspoll, there is a split in the sentiment of younger Australians aged 18-34, with 50 per cent agreeing that asylum-seekers deemed to not be refugees should be deported, and 40 per cent declaring they should remain in the country. Overall, 12 per cent of voters remain uncommitted on the issue of how the government should respond to asylum-seekers who are regarded as non-refugees by the courts.

Among Coalition voters, 73 per cent supported deportation and 16 per cent opposed it. Moderate Liberal MP Russell Broadbent said on Monday the Tamil family shouldn’t be treated differently to other similar asylum-seeker cases and urged against intervention.

On Sunday, Labor frontbencher Tony Burke, a former immigration minister, said he had “exercised ministerial discretion”. “You don’t only exercise ministerial discretion for issues of compassion, you also exercise ministerial discretion for issues of national interest,” he said.

Labor came under fire last week over its intervention in the case, with the government accusing it of opening the door to other failed asylum cases.

GEOFF CHAMBERS, FEDERAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT ….  Geoff Chambers is The Australian’s Federal Political Correspondent. He was previously The Australian’s Canberra Bureau Chief and Queensland Bureau Chief. Before joining the national broadsheet he was News Edito..



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3 responses to “Send them to Lanka? Aussie Opinion Poll on the Nadesalingam Murugappan Case

  1. Jeni Nathanielsz

    The poll is erroneous, and smacks of political manipulation.
    I have been following this case since its inception.
    This family has undergone immense trauma and vilification from the heartless Liberal government for too long.
    Their case is unique.
    The government is typically hiding behind their inhumane border politics.
    The majority of Australians are compassionate, and the continuous community protests the length and breadth of the country bears this out.

    • How are they unique? Sri Lanka has been deemed safe for Tamils and the civil war ended over a decade ago. They lied on their application for asylum. Do you believe in abolishing all immigration laws? If not I see no reason to not deport them.

  2. Jayantha de Silva

    My wife and I went to a protest against the deportation of this Tamil family, held in front of the right wing ‘dandruff” immigration minister’s office in Brisbane.before the general election. ‘dandruff’ is not my term but copied from a comedian who said that man should have border protection against dandruff.
    Sam de Silva.

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