Bilo family's small federal court win
A FEDERAL Court judge has granted an extended injunction preventing the deportation of a Tamil family from Darwin to Sri Lanka until after another court hearing next Wednesday.
Angel Aleksov, representing the family, asked Justice Mordecai Bromberg to extend the injunction so they could make a further application for Priya, Nades and their daughters to remain in Australia.
Federal Circuit Court Judge Heather Riley granted the injunction by phone late Thursday night, preventing any attempts to remove them from Australia after their departure on a Sri Lanka bound flight from Melbourne.
The plane was forced to land in Darwin.
Mr Aleksov has applied to the court on behalf of two-year-old Tharunicca. There has been a request on her behalf to Mr Colemanfor permission to make a visa application.
But Mr Aleksov said there has been no assessment by any Australian official about whether she is owed protection by the federal government.
Failure by the department to refer this question to the minister for an answer is "unreasonable in a legal sense", he said.
Unless there was a halt on the noon deportation, there would be no time to appropriately consider her case for a visa.
Christopher Tran, representing the immigration department and minister David Coleman, agreed to the extension but opposed the outcome.
"The application on its face is hopeless," he said.
Justice Bromberg ordered the government be prevented from removing Tharunicca and her family until 4pm Wednesday, September 4.
The case will return to court on the Wednesday morning.
The injunction comes after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the family must accept they are not refugees and don't deserve Australia's protection.
He said it's time for Priya and her husband Nadesalingam, who came separately to Australia by boat to escape Sri Lanka's civil war and settled in Biloela, in central Queensland, to go back. Immigration officials and a succession of courts, right up to the High Court, had not found in favour of the asylum seeker couple and their two Australian born daughters.
"I would like the family to accept that they are not refugees, they're not owed protection by our country," Mr Dutton told Nine's Today program this morning.
The family's battle to stay is not over yet after a judge dramatically halted their deportation overnight after they were taken from immigration detention in Melbourne and bundled onto a plane which took off around 11pm last night.
When the plane stopped to refuel in Darwin the family was taken off the aircraft on judge's orders.
The injunction, issued by Judge Heather Riley, restrains Immigration Minister David Coleman from removing the family until midday today.
Their fate will now be considered at an urgent court hearing in Melbourne this morning.
Priya and Nadesalingam say they face persecution if they are sent back to Sri Lanka because of past family links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
Priya has previously said she witnessed her fiance and five other men from her village burned alive before she fled.
But Mr Dutton says immigration authorities have spent years assessing their case, and a succession of courts, including the High Court, had not found in their favour.
He said the couple was told before they had children that they'd never be allowed to settle in Australia, and no court or tribunal and ever supported their case to stay.
"They came here by boat and we've been very clear that they wouldn't stay."
Attorney-General Christian Porter said the couple had paid people smugglers to reach Australia.
He accepted the people of Biloela wanted them to stay but that wasn't the primary issue.
"The goodness of people is one consideration," he told Sydney radio 2GB.
"The method of how people come to Australia, and whether they actually meet the criteria for a protection visa, is another one and a more complicated matter."
There were dramatic scenes at Melbourne airport last night as supporters tried to stop their deportation.
Tamil Refugee Council spokesperson Aran Mylvaganam said two people were arrested after cutting through a fence to reach a tarmac area.
"We chanted, we tried many different ways to stop the deportation, and two of our supporters managed to cut through the fenceand go to the tarmac area, where the family was being held," he told the ABC.
Mr Mylvaganam said Priya saw her fiance and five other men from her village burned alive before she fled Sri Lanka.
The family is now in accommodation in Darwin, anxiously waiting for the outcome of this morning's court hearing.
Family friend Angela Fredericks said Priya was injured when security guards forced her onto the plane in Melbourne and she was not allowed to sit with her daughters Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 2, even though the youngest girl was highly distressed.
"This is just cruel and barbaric stuff," Ms Fredericks told AAP.
The family has been in a Melbourne detention centre since March 2018, after being taken from their homein Biloela, in Queensland, during a pre-dawn raid.
They had lived in the town for four years on a temporary bridging visabefore it ran out in March 2018.
The High Court denied their final bid to stay in May 2018.
Last week the family found out their efforts to stay in the country had been rejected.
The family has received strong support from the Australian community with more than 200,000 people signing a Change.org onlinepetition to allow them to stay.
Family friend Simone Cameron said she was glad to hear the injunction was granted.
Ms Cameron who used to teach the husband English said the family were some of the most "generous" and "good-hearted" people she knew and that's why she and the Biloela community were fighting so hard to get them to stay.
"We are so lucky in Australia and when people come seeking asylum, we should help them. They arrived in Biolela looking for peace and safety - they didn't ask for much."
Ms Fredericks said she was close to tears when she found out the family had been taken to Tullamarine.
"I'm just in shock. I can't believe the cruelty of this country," she told The Courier-Mail.
Several celebrities and Change.org executive director Sally Rugg have tweeted condemning the deportation of the family.
"On a day where the PM's sorting out toilet signs in just a few hours, maybe we could spare a few minutes to save a wonderful family from deportation. C'mon Australia, we can be better than this," Annie Kearney said on Twitter.
Earlier, campaigns director at Change.org Nic Holas who was at the protest said there were about 50 people chanting at the airport.
"There are about 50 people and growing by the minute protesting outside a private hangar where the skytrader plane is. They are chanting with signs being held back by police and security guards. We're doing everything we can to stop their deportation."
- with AAP