Supporters of Tamil family hope Barnaby Joyce’s return as deputy PM can help bring them back to Biloela

Supporters of a Tamil asylum-seeker family are hopeful Barnaby Joyce’s return to the deputy prime ministership will put more pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to send them back to the Queensland community of Biloela. Mr. Joyce regained the country’s second most senior political job on Monday after defeating Michael McCormack in a Nationals leadership spill. It’s provided an injection of hope for the Murugappan family’s supporters, whom the Australian government has detained for more than three years.

Mr. Joyce last week called for Priya and Nades and their two Australian-born daughters, Kopika and Tharnicaa, to be allowed to go home to the Biloela. He also appeared to accuse the government of racism. “Tharnicaa and Kopika were born in Australia. Maybe if their names were Jane and Sally, we’d think twice about sending them back to another country they’re not from,” Mr. Joyce told the Seven Network last week. “Why not send them to Southern Sudan? Why not send them to Rwanda to Belarus? They’re also countries they were never born in.”

The family was in last week reunited in Perth after five-year-old Tharnicaa was sent there for urgent medical treatment from Christmas Island, where the family had been detained since August 2019. They have since been told they can stay in community detention in the West Australian capital until their legal fight against deportation is resolved, but they cannot return to Biloela. The government has repeatedly said granting permanent family residency would reignite the people-smuggling trade.

Angela Fredericks of the Home to Bilo supporter group hoped Monday’s Nationals leadership change would heap pressure on Mr. Morrison and Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to send her friends “home”. “The new deputy prime minister has long been an outspoken advocate for this family,” Ms. Fredericks said in a statement. “Now Mr. Joyce is returned to the leadership, I hope he will continue to advocate for Priya, Nades, and their two Queensland-born girls.”

Barnaby Joyce

Ms. Fredericks said it was essential to move quickly.

“We’re running out of time. Priya and her family have been only given temporary protection here in Perth due to Tharni’s health issues, but just last week, Minister Hawke was still threatening to send them to danger in Sri Lanka. Having Mr. Joyce back as Deputy Prime Minister might bring the new hope this family desperately needs.”

Ms. Fredericks said she met with Mr. Joyce in Canberra two years ago.

“He has been so supportive of this family for a very long time,” she said in a separate interview with AAP on Monday. “He has supported us. We are quite encouraged to know that somebody has taken the time to listen in such a great position.” the Prime minister will put more pressure on Scott Morrison.” src=”″ alt=” Newly-elected Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce” width=”700″ height=”467″ />

A Tamil family fighting to stay in Australia hopes the return of supporter Barnaby Joyce as deputy prime minister will put more pressure on Scott Morrison.


Another family friend, Bronwyn Dendle, told the ABC from Biloela on Monday that family supporters are feeling “really hopeful that [Mr. Joyce] can have that hard conversation with Mr. Morrison and ask him to stop the cruelty”. Ms. Dendle said she intended to contact Mr. Joyce to continue the conversation and “groundswell of public support for the family”.

A Monday video released by the family’s supporters showed Kopika and Tharnicaa being pushed in a trolley through a department store in Perth.

“This is my first time going in a trolley,” Tharnicaa said with a smile.

“I like the sparkly shoes,” Kopika added. On Monday, labor leader Anthony Albanese also advocated for the Murugappans’ return to Biloela, saying Mr. Joyce should “make sure it happens”.

“One of the things that he will be in a position to do is to demand that happens,” he told reporters. “One of the issues that we certainly will be holding him to account is all of the recent comments that he’s made, including that one. “That is one which the Biloela community, which I visited in 2019, clearly supports, and it is one which Barnaby Joyce was right when he made those comments.”

A small but growing number of Liberal MPs have also sided with the family, including Katie Allen, Trent Zimmerman, Jason Falinski, and Ken O’Dowd. The Murugapans lived in Biloela before their bridging visas expired and were detained in a night raid in 2018.

Nades and Priya have said they face persecution if deported to Sri Lanka.

Both Tamils fled their homeland after the country’s civil war and came separately by boat to Australia.

With AAP.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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