The Biloela Four have another reprieve, courtesy of a judgment by Federal Court Justice Moshinsky last Friday. Their Christmas Island exile will continue for a while more, as the next chapter in their fight to remain in Australia unfolds. It’s a timely moment to reflect on their journey through Australia’s bureaucracy, courts and consciousness so far.
Their name, in case it be forgotten, is not Biloela. Nades and Priya Murugappan arrived in Australian waters, separately, in 2012 and 2013. They came by boat from Sri Lanka, and claimed asylum on arrival. Their claim to refugee status is based on the fear of persecution were they to be returned to Sri Lanka, as a consequence of the former civil war there.
They were given bridging visas as their claims were processed, and settled into life in the central Queensland town of Biloela. Their daughters, Kopika and Tharunicaa, were born in Australia. All was peaceful until March 2018, when the Border Force (ABF) turned up at their home and forcibly removed them to Broadmeadows detention centre in Melbourne.