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The Project host Lisa Wilkinson has lashed the Australian government over the plight of a Tamil family ripped from their home in Biloela and sent to Christmas Island.

The Tamil family-of-four were rounded up from their Queensland home by Border Force immigration officials in March 2018 and later banished to Christmas Island.

They have since been caught in the middle of a long-running legal row to keep them in Australia, despite immigration minister Alex Hawke being able to grant residency. 

‘It’s heartbreaking,’ blasted Ms Wilkinson after Waheed Aly interviewed the family together for the first time on the show on Thursday. 

‘It looks to me like they’re just political footballs, not human beings any more.’

The family of four were rounded up from their Queensland home by Border Force immigration officials in March 2018 and later banished to Christmas Island. (Pictured, Nades Murugappan with his wife Priya and daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa)

The family of four were rounded up from their Queensland home by Border Force immigration officials in March 2018 and later banished to Christmas Island. (Pictured, Nades Murugappan with his wife Priya and daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa)

The family of four were rounded up from their Queensland home by Border Force immigration officials in March 2018 and later banished to Christmas Island. (Pictured, Nades Murugappan with his wife Priya and daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa)

She appeared on the verge of tears when the camera cut back to her after the couple’s two young daughters begged: ‘I want to go home to Bilo.’

The family have been caught in a legal limbo since being thrown into detention three years ago, the day after their mother’s visa expired.

Father Nades Murugappan arrived in Australia by boat from Sri Lanka in 2012 and claimed asylum, fearing reprisals after being forced to join the Tamil Tigers in 2001.

He later met his wife-to-be Priya after she arrived separately, also by boat, in 2013 to claim asylum. 

She says she can’t return to Sri Lanka after her then-fiance and five other men from her village were burnt alive by the Sri Lankan military.

The couple settled in Biloela – a town with a history of welcoming refugees – before daughters Kopika, 6, and Tharnicaa, 4, were both born in Australia.

Tharnicaa has since spent every birthday in detention.

The Project host Lisa Wilkinson (pictured) has lashed the Australian government over the plight of a Tamil family ripped from their home in Biloela and sent to Christmas Island

The Project host Lisa Wilkinson (pictured) has lashed the Australian government over the plight of a Tamil family ripped from their home in Biloela and sent to Christmas Island

The Project host Lisa Wilkinson (pictured) has lashed the Australian government over the plight of a Tamil family ripped from their home in Biloela and sent to Christmas Island

Daughters Kopika, 6, and Tharnicaa, 4, (pictured) were both born in Australia and are missing their home in Queensland

Daughters Kopika, 6, and Tharnicaa, 4, (pictured) were both born in Australia and are missing their home in Queensland

Daughters Kopika, 6, and Tharnicaa, 4, (pictured) were both born in Australia and are missing their home in Queensland

The family were initially held in Melbourne but when their their refugee status was denied in August 2019, they were put on a plane to be returned to Sri Lanka.

A legal injunction managed to stop the deportation while their flight was in the air to Darwin, but instead they were airlifted out to the Indian Ocean to be the only detainees on Christmas Island.

The girls told Waheed Aly they hated life on the remote outcrop offshore from northern Western Australia.

‘I don’t like it,’ they told him. ‘No friends…’

The local community in Queensland launched a Home To Bilo campaign to try to get the family returned but the pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

The family were finally allowed to fly to Perth after Tharnicaa took ill on Christmas Island in June and had to be medevaced out for vital emergency treatment for sepsis and suspected pneumonia 

Tharnicaa (pictured) took ill on Christmas Island in June and had to be medevaced out for vital emergency treatment for sepsis and suspected pneumonia

Tharnicaa (pictured) took ill on Christmas Island in June and had to be medevaced out for vital emergency treatment for sepsis and suspected pneumonia

Tharnicaa (pictured) took ill on Christmas Island in June and had to be medevaced out for vital emergency treatment for sepsis and suspected pneumonia

The family were finally allowed to move to Perth after Tharnicaa (pictured here with mother Priya) took ill on Christmas Island in June

The family were finally allowed to move to Perth after Tharnicaa (pictured here with mother Priya) took ill on Christmas Island in June

The family were finally allowed to move to Perth after Tharnicaa (pictured here with mother Priya) took ill on Christmas Island in June

They are now living in the community in Perth while the last legal appeals play out – but at any time immigration minister Mr Hawke can step in to save them.

But he fears that allowing them to resettle permanently in Australia would only serve to encourage others to make the dangerous journey Down Under by boat.

People smugglers could even capitalise on the case to convince vulnerable people to attempt the trip.

‘We do not believe anyone who has come by boat should be allowed to be permanently resettled in Australia,’ he said. 

The Murugappan family (pictured) are now living in the community in Perth while the last legal appeals play out

The Murugappan family (pictured) are now living in the community in Perth while the last legal appeals play out

The Murugappan family (pictured) are now living in the community in Perth while the last legal appeals play out

Waheed Aly (pictured) interviewed the Murugappan family together for the first time on The Project on Thursday

Waheed Aly (pictured) interviewed the Murugappan family together for the first time on The Project on Thursday

Waheed Aly (pictured) interviewed the Murugappan family together for the first time on The Project on Thursday

‘Our advice regularly is from agencies that the trade in human misery that is people smuggling can restart at any moment.’

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison has ruled out ministerial interventions, despite the young girls being born in the country. 

Father Nades said they just wanted to go back to being part of the community in Biloela for the sake of his daughters, rather than him and his wife.

‘I’m not worried about the two of us – we have lived,’ he told the show. ‘We beg the minister to consider our children’s future and let us live safely.’

Father Nades (pictured with wife Priya and daughters Tharnicaa and Kopika) said they just wanted to go back to being part of the community in Biloela for the sake of his daughters, rather than him and his wife.

Father Nades (pictured with wife Priya and daughters Tharnicaa and Kopika) said they just wanted to go back to being part of the community in Biloela for the sake of his daughters, rather than him and his wife.

Father Nades (pictured with wife Priya and daughters Tharnicaa and Kopika) said they just wanted to go back to being part of the community in Biloela for the sake of his daughters, rather than him and his wife.

The parents are now on a three month bridging visa which expires next month. 

Waheed Aly added: ‘Obviously it’s a very sad situation. You can’t help but fall in love with those kids when you speak to them.  

‘One of the interesting things they told me was that, their story had received quite a lot of attention in Sri Lanka. 

So there’s one thing sending people back to Sri Lanka and the question about whether that’s safe, but particularly for them, because it’s high-profile.

‘There’s a lot of eyes on that. And I think they’re very worried about that aspect.’

Source: DailyMail

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