Humane decision

The Australian Government has spent millions to shore up its tough stance on boat arrivals by removing a Tamil family to its Christmas Island detention facility in 2019.

The decision by Federal Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to allow a Sri Lankan family to live in the Perth community rather than remain the sole occupants of the Christmas Island Detention Centre is hopefully the first step in resolving this long running saga.
The fate of the family has ballooned into a massive legal, political and ideological argument which has, until now, snuffed out any obvious sense of compassion from those in authority.
It has shown the worst side of Australia and the best.
There are valid arguments on both sides and, while the debate rages about whether letting one family stay when the letter of the law indicates the parents shouldn’t, the individuals have been forgotten.
A former Chief Justice of the Australian High Court summed up the situation recently saying the locking up of this family as the sole occupants of a detention centre on an isolated island is not the unintended consequences of the Government’s tough immigration policy, it is bordering on deliberate cruelty.
A brutal example to deter others.
It is worth remembering the family is still pursuing its legal avenues to remain … as they are entitled to do under the law.
The parents – both boat arrivals – have had their claims for asylum rejected but the legal status of their Australian-born daughters has not been resolved.
Why this lengthy process could not have been completed while the family was living in regional Queensland – working, paying taxes and happily contributing to their community – is staggering.
They are a zero risk to national security.
But the Government was desperate to make an example of them and was prepared to spend millions to shore up its tough stance on boat arrivals by removing the family to the then mothballed Christmas Island detention facility in 2019.
It has continued to spend millions to keep them there when they could have stayed in a humane environment in the community at no cost to us.
It makes no economic or ethical sense.
Hopefully the family’s return to the mainland to be reunited with their sick daughter in Perth will bring to a close this distasteful chapter in Australia’s recent immigration history.