The Last Family On Christmas Island Spared Deportation

The Australian Federal Government has lost its appeal on a 2019 decision from Justice Mark Moshinsky that ruled that Tharnicca Tamil, the youngest child of the Tamil family (the last family on Christmas Island) had been denied procedural fairness by the Federal Government. The denial of procedural fairness stems from the home affairs office providing a brief to then immigration minister David Coleman surrounding the family’s situation and asking for Coleman to intervene and allow Tharnicca to lodge a visa application. However, Coleman’s inaction was not the problem. The problem stems from Coleman’s inability to inform the family of his denial to lift the bar and not allow Tharnicca to apply for a visa.

As to where this now leaves the Tamil family, the Australian Government has made its stance quite clear. In a statement made after the ruling was upheld the home affairs office stated, “The Australian Government’s policy is clear — no-one who attempted illegal maritime travel to Australia will be settled here.”

The home affairs office has also noted that it does not believe that the family is owed a duty of care noting, “At no time has any member of the family been found to be owed protection.” As for the Tamil family, they have recently released a video updating their situation from Christmas Island. The mother Priya Tamil thanked all of those who showed support for the family and stressed her wishes for daughters to just simply have a better life emphasizing that “I want my daughters to grow up with freedom and peace.” This should be something Prime Minister Scott Morrison should be able to relate to given his tendency to emphasize his experience as a father to justify policy in his own “National Dad Politics.”

Inaction, little to no communication, and leveraging legal power over vulnerable asylum seekers and migrants have been quite common observable traits of the immigration policy undertaken by the Coalition government. The Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton was threatened with a potential finding of being in contempt of court by a federal court judge because of his simple inaction and lack of communication in the decision on whether to grant a man from Iran a visa. After being reopened to alleviate pressure on the onshore detention facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems as if one of the most infamous stains on the human rights record of Australia has provided another event of infamy.

What is next for the Tamil family? As stated previously they will remain on Christmas Island. The ruling by the Federal Court did not say that the Government had to allow for Tharnicca to apply for a visa but rather that she be informed of the decision to not allow her to apply for the visa. This has made the family deported from Biloela exist in uncertain territory. However, if there is something that one can count on from a Coalition government, it is a determined effort to either do nothing and wait until the last minute when a judge is open to finding the home affairs minister in contempt or a determined effort to see all legal avenues to deny your entry into Australia.