The Murugappan family of Biloela

10 Oct 2021 by Rev Dr John Squires in: Letters, Thoughts, News

The Murugappan family of Biloela

From Rev Dr John Squires
Presbytery Minister - Wellbeing

The Church Council of the North Belconnen congregation has recently written to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration, requesting the Government of Australia to urgently give permission for the Murugappan family to live in Australia permanently.

The letter cites the imperatives found in Matthew 25, to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, and cared or people in their time of need, as the basis for this request. The letter states that “these words which should inform our response to this family who have done nothing wrong, only sought safety from danger and a peaceful place to live. This is the Australia of compassion and care for the stranger who has knocked at our door. We need to pause and reflect on how we would react should we walk in their shoes. We would hope it would be opened.”

The situation of the Murugappan family remains a deep concern to people of faith across Australia. Whilst three of the family have been granted temporary 12 month visas, which allow the family to remain in Perth, such a visa has not been granted to youngest daughter, Tharnicaa. The family is unable to return to Biloela in Queensland, where they settled some years ago, and were warmly embraced by the local community.

The letter states that “Continuing detention for this family, the parents and their two very young children, has no justification except to cause harm to their physical and mental health. The family has suffered removal from their home in Biloela, detention in various forms in Melbourne, Christmas Island, Perth and elsewhere. They have lived with the threat of deportation for more than four years at enormous cost to them and the Australian taxpayer.”

Under the Migration Act, the Minister for Immigration, Hon Alex Hawke MP, has the power today to exercise compassion by granting permanent visas to the family to stay in Australia, if it is the public interest. “What is stopping the Minister”, the letter asks, “from showing compassion to a family whose parents have already demonstrated a commitment to Australia since the parents arrived in 2012 and 2013, including to the community of Biloela? It would seem that politics trumps principle and the values that underpin Australian, a fair go for all.”

The letter implores the government “to live up to the ideals that characterised the response by former governments, including the Fraser and Hawke governments who provided safe haven to tens of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers from Vietnam and China respectively.”

Should any other person or Church Council wish to send a similar letter to the government, a copy of the letter can be obtained from John Squires.