The Wikipedia Tale of the Murugappans of Biloela … Today, Mid-2021

Murugappan family asylum claims  .

Kokilapathmapriya Nadesalingam (Priya) and Nadesalingam Murugappan (Nades)[1] are two Sri Lankan Tamils seeking asylum in Australia. The couple married in Australia and have two Australian-born children. Until their detention by Australian Border Force in March 2018, the family was resident in the central Queensland town of Biloela, and consequently referred to as the Biloela family by some media.[2][3] The cause of the couple and their children has been supported by some residents of Biloela as well as asylum-seeker advocates.[4]


Priya and Nades were both living in Sri Lanka during the Sri Lankan Civil War which started in 1983 and formally ended in 2009 with the Sri Lankan Army defeating the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Nades claimed to have been forced to join the LTTE in 2001 and as a result, claimed to be harassed by Sri Lankan government authorities.[5] The Australian government claims that Nades was able to freely travel to Kuwait and Qatar with a Sri Lankan government issued passport from Sri Lanka on at least three separate occasions on temporary work visas to travel to Qatar and Kuwait for work between 2004 and 2010, and therefore was not of concern to Sri Lankan authorities.[5][6]

Damien Kingsbury, an academic specialising in international politics, stated even though the civil war had ended Sri Lanka was still dangerous for some minorities, stating “The environment is changing and it’s never been particularly favourable to Tamils but it looks like it’s changing back to a more draconian environment”.[5] Another immigration lawyer, Simon Jeans, claimed that the family had not been truthful in visa applications and said evidence suggested they came to Australia as economic refugees.[5]

Nades arrived at Christmas Island on a people smuggler boat in 2012. Priya left Sri Lanka in 2001 and went to Tamil NaduIndia, claiming she was being targeted due to her brother’s supposed links to the LTTE. She arrived at Cocos Islands on another people smuggler boat in 2013 from Tamil Nadu, India, a safe haven for Tamil people fleeing Sri Lanka during the civil war that was unaffected by the civil war.[7][8][9] Both arrived under the classification of the ‘legacy caseload’ having arrived by boat between 2012 and 2014.[10] Legacy caseload arrivals have been classified as Irregular Maritime Arrivals and Illegal Maritime Arrivals.[11] The Immigration Assessment Authority affirmed the ministerial delegate’s decisions regarding the asylum claims, noting that Priya had been able to travel lawfully without issue from Sri Lanka to Tamil Nadu, India in 2001.[8]

The Immigration Assessment Authority stated that years had passed since the civil war and “the risk profile of persons of adverse interest had changed”. The Sri Lankan government was now inquiring after a different category of persons in the post-war and reconciliation period, described as “those with a significant role in post-conflict Tamil separatism”. It was stated that the applicant Priya did not fall within this category of persons.[8]

Both were granted temporary bridging visas.[12] The couple first met in Australia and married in 2014.[13] They subsequently had two children, born in Australia in May 2015 and June 2017.[14] They settled in Biloela where Nades worked in the local abattoir.[15] He was also a volunteer with the local Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.[16]


The family was taken into custody by Australian Border Force personnel from their home in Biloela in March 2018 and taken to the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation facility in Broadmeadows, a suburb of Melbourne.[17] While in detention in Melbourne, supporters of the family claimed that the couple and their children had been ill-treated and denied basic nutrition and health care.[18] The claim was refuted by the relevant department at the time, stating that the family was offered medical treatment several times and had declined it, and that at no point was the family denied medical care.[18]

In June 2018, the Federal Court of Australia found that Priya was not eligible to stay in Australia, while Nades’ rights of appeal were already extinguished.[19] In the judgment, the judge noted that the civil war had ended in 2009, Nades had returned to Sri Lanka on three occasions during the civil war and found that there was “no evidence to suggest [Nades’] family still living in Sri Lanka was at risk from authorities“.[14] Priya lodged an appeal with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. This appeal was dismissed in December 2018, however the government was restrained from deporting the family until February 2019.[20] A further application by the couple to seek special leave to High Court of Australia to hear an appeal of the Federal Court decision was refused in May 2019.[21] Including the negative finding by the High Court, the family had their asylum appeals to stay reviewed and rejected seven times through seven separate court and tribunal sessions.[22]

An attempt to deport the couple, and their Australian-born children, on 29 August 2019 was prevented by an injunction lodged by the solicitors while the plane taking the family to Sri Lanka was in mid-air. This injunction was granted as the younger child had not yet been assessed for a protection visa.[23] The injunction forced the plane to land in Darwin.[12] The family were then taken to Christmas Island Immigration Reception and Processing Centre.[24]

On 19 September 2019, the Federal Court ruled that the younger daughter (and hence the family) should remain in Australia until the case goes to a final hearing at a date to be determined.[25] On 17 April 2020, the Federal Court ruled that Immigration Minister David Coleman had taken a procedural step to consider using ministerial powers to allow the younger daughter to apply for a visa, which now needs to be finalised.[26][27] On 27 April 2020, the Federal Government was ordered to pay A$206,000 in legal fees for her, as she had “not [been] afforded procedural fairness”.[28]

Over the weekend of 18–19 July 2020, Priya was flown from Christmas Island to Perth for medical treatment for severe abdominal pain and vomiting.[29] She was flown back to Christmas Island on 29 July on a chartered flight.[29]

On 8 June 2021, the younger daughter was flown to Perth Children’s Hospital with a suspected blood infection.[30] In the days that followed, it was determined that she had pneumonia and septicaemia.[31] In the same month, the government decided to allow the family to live in community detention in Perth, rather than on Christmas Island.[32]


Priya and Nades’ wish to stay in Australia has been supported by some members of the Biloela community as well as refugee and asylum seeker advocates.[33]

Anthony Albanese, leader of the opposition Australian Labor Party has supported granting permanent residency to the family stating “These people should be settled here in Australia. It won’t undermine the government’s migration policies. It will simply say that this is a government that is prepared to listen to what the community are saying and saying so strongly”.[34] Former National Party leader Barnaby Joyce also spoke in support noting that the Biloela community “seem to be pretty enthused about keeping this family there … I think we should also be listening to them.”[34]

The Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton stated that the family’s case was “completely without merit in terms of their claim to be refugees”[35] and “I would like the family to accept that they are not refugees, they’re not owed protection by our country”.[12] Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused calls to intervene, stating “they didn’t come to the country in the appropriate way. They have not been found to have an asylum claim” and “to exercise intervention powers on this would be to send exactly the wrong message to those who are looking to sell tickets to vulnerable people looking to get on boats …”[36] Morrison stated that the family remain eligible to lodge an application to migrate to Australia; “they can make an application to come to Australia under the same processes as everyone else, anywhere else in the world. And I would hope they do.”[36]


  1. ^“‘They’re not refugees, they’re not owed protection’: Peter Dutton says asylum seeker Sri Lankan family WILL be deported despite last-minute reprieve and protests”.
  2. ^Curtis, Katina (15 June 2021). “Biloela family released and allowed to live in Perth community”. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  3. ^“Biloela family to reunite on Australian mainland but visa status expected to remain unchanged”. the Guardian. 14 June 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  4. ^“How two women from a conservative Queensland town made the deportation of a local Tamil family national news”. SBS News. Archived from the original on 23 December 2020. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  5. Jump up to:ab c d Pengilley, Victoria (2 September 2019). “Tamil asylum seeker family from Biloela could be undone by father’s travel history and refugee activism, immigration lawyer says”. ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 2 September 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  6. ^MP, Josh Burns. “Article: Biloela Tamil family deportation case (Guardian Australia)”. Josh Burns MP. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  7. ^Dutton, Peter (21 December 2018). “Sri Lankan family pay people smugglers thousands cost Australian taxpayers millions” (Press release). Minister for Home AffairsArchivedfrom the original on 4 September 2019. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  8. Jump up to:ab c Eddie, Rachel (6 September 2019). “What’s next for the Tamil family fighting to stay in Australia?”. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  9. ^Chandran, Rina (26 October 2018). “Promised land and homes, Sri Lankan refugees to return from India”. Reuters. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  10. ^“”Legacy caseload:” Sri Lankan family fight deportation”. ABC Radio. 2 September 2019. Retrieved 21 February2021.
  11. ^“ParlInfo – IMA legacy caseload [electronic resource] : report on status and processing outcomes / Australian Government, Department of Immigration and Border Protection. : Illegal Maritime Arrivals legacy caseload : report on status and processing outcomes”. Retrieved 20 February2021.
  12. Jump up to:abc Hope, Zach (30 August 2019). “Dutton says Tamil family doesn’t deserve Australia’s protection”. Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 29 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  13. ^Eddie, Rachel; Koob, Simone Fox (4 September 2019). “Tamil family granted two more days in last-ditch legal bid to stay in Australia”The AgeArchivedfrom the original on 4 September 2019. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  14. Jump up to:ab“Who are the Tamil family from Biloela and why are they being deported?”. ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 30 August 2019. Archived from the original on 30 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  15. ^Pengilley, Victoria (30 August 2019). “Deportation of Tamil asylum seeker family interrupted midair by last-minute injunction”. ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archivedfrom the original on 30 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  16. ^Stunzner, Inga; McCosker, Amy; Robinson, Paul. “Asylum seeker family removed ‘without warning’ at dawn in central Queensland, Tamil Refugee Council says”. ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archivedfrom the original on 2 September 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  17. ^Hendry, Megan (30 August 2019). “Tamil asylum seeker family ‘whisked away’ for deportation draws massive community support”. ABCNews. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archivedfrom the original on 29 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  18. Jump up to:abZhuang, Yan (6 July 2019). “Family say two-year-old detainee ‘recovering’, government denies she was hurt”. The Age. Archived from the original on 30 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  19. ^“Tamil family lose appeal to stay in Australia”. Guardian Australia. 21 June 2018. Archivedfrom the original on 30 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  20. ^Davey, Melissa (21 December 2019). “Tamil family’s appeal to remain in Australia dismissed in federal court”. Guardian Australia. Archivedfrom the original on 30 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  21. ^Flatley, Christine; McElroy, Nicholas (14 May 2019). “Tamil family loses High Court appeal”. Canberra Times. Archivedfrom the original on 29 May 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  22. ^“Street protesters in Melbourne in support of Tamil family”. Retrieved 1 January2021.
  23. ^Smith, Rohan; Graham, Ben (1 September 2019). “Dutton lashes out at ‘disgusting’ criticism over Tamil asylum family secretly flown to Christmas Island”. News Limited. Archivedfrom the original on 2 September 2019. Retrieved 2 September2019.
  24. ^Doherty, Ben (31 August 2019). “Biloela Tamil asylum-seeker family moved to Christmas Island”. Guardian Australia. Archivedfrom the original on 1 September 2019. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  25. ^Taylor, Josh (19 September 2019). “Biloela Tamil family deportation case: asylum seekers can stay until final hearing”Archivedfrom the original on 19 September 2019. Retrieved 19 September 2019 – via
  26. ^Eddie, Rachel (17 April 2020). “Tamil family on Christmas Island win Federal Court case”. The Sydney Morning Herald. Archivedfrom the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  27. ^Hendry, Megan (17 April 2020). “Tamil girl ‘not afforded procedural fairness’ in Biloela family’s asylum bid, Federal Court rules”. ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archivedfrom the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  28. ^“Commonwealth ordered to pay more than $200,000 in costs over Biloela asylum seeker case”. ABC News. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 27 April 2020. Archivedfrom the original on 30 May 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  29. Jump up to:ab“Tamil mother ‘in pain for two weeks’ before being flown to Perth from Christmas Island”. 20 July 2020. Archived from the original on 16 December 2020. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  30. ^“Daughter of Biloela Tamil asylum seekers evacuated from Christmas Island in medical emergency”. 7 June 2021.
  31. ^“Mother of Biloela girl makes public plea after pneumonia diagnosis”.
  32. ^Curtis, Katina (14 June 2021). “Biloela family released and allowed to live in Perth community”. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 June2021.
  33. ^Doherty, Ben. “immigration and asylum ‘We’re a polite town’: rage in Biloela as Tamil family’s fate in Peter Dutton’s hands”. Guardian Australia. Archivedfrom the original on 1 September 2019. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  34. Jump up to:abMcGowan, Michael; Martin, Sarah; Israel, Janine (1 September 2019). “Albanese calls on PM to let Biloela Tamil family stay as rallies held across Australia”. Guardian Australia. Archived from the original on 1 September 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  35. ^Bolger, Rosemary (2 September 2019). “Peter Dutton won’t take ‘moral lecture’ on Tamil family detained on Christmas Island”. SBS News. Special Broadcasting Service. Archivedfrom the original on 2 September 2019. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  36. Jump up to:abFerguson, Richard (2 September 2019). “Scott Morrison: Tamil family has to leave”. The Australian. News Limited. Archived from the original on 23 December 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2019.

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