(Image: Gorkie/Private Media)

The government's jury-rigged solution this week to the vexing problem of the Murugappan family -- keep trying to deport them but allow them to stay in community detention until legal avenues are exhausted, instead of Christmas Island -- isn't sustainable politically or logically, let alone morally.

At some point the government will have to make a permanent decision: continue to try to deport them or let them live in Biloela, in Queensland. It may get lucky and have a judge make the decision for it, but it shouldn't count on the political environment for deportation improving significantly. Images of little kids in distress have a way of overriding the community's general antipathy to asylum seekers.

Exacerbating the political problem is that it doesn't have a strong policy argument for deporting a family with two children born here and with strong roots in a regional community -- the kind of roots that in other circumstances would have the government celebrating the family as exactly what Australia needs.