Biloela locals are ecstatic and proud their four-year campaign to bring a family of Tamil asylum seekers home to their central Queensland community has succeeded.
Home Affairs Minister Jim Chalmers signed an order to allow Nadesalingam and Priya Murugappan and their daughters, Kopika, 6, and Tharunicaa, 4, to return to Biloela on bridging visas after being detained since 2019.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who promised the family would be allowed to return to Biloela during the election campaign, simply Tweeted: “Proud”.
Mr Murugappan was shocked to hear his family’s four-year ordeal could be coming to an end.
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“Finally, everything is here. I cannot believe it,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“My prayer is that this government will make a change to the lives of every single refugee who comes here. All refugees are survivors. They need hope.
“I had the support of Nades and we had the support of the people of Bilo. But many others don’t have that support. So I want to help.”
The Home to Bilo campaign’s Angela Fredericks says the Murugappans will leave Perth and return to Biloela in early June.
“Their journey home to Bilo marks the end of a long, painful chapter in their lives, and the beginning of a lifetime of healing and recovery,” she said in a statement.
Ms Fredericks said Biloela locals can’t wait for the Murugappans to get back for “warm hugs, happy tears, and a very big welcome home party”.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk also welcomed the news.
“The home of the Muragappan family is the beautiful community of Biloela,” she tweeted.
“It’s wonderful news that they will be allowed to return to their home, finally.”
Banana Mayor Nev Ferrier said locals had “heard whispers” the family would be allowed back to Biloela, but no-one expected the order to be signed this week.
“I didn’t think it to be this quick, to tell you the truth,” he told AAP on Friday.
“It will be a pretty excited town here, I can tell you, when they hear the news.”
Mr Ferrier said he was proud of people in Biloela and the Banana Shire who never faltered in their four-year campaign to bring the Murugappan family home.
“I don’t know how they kept going, and they just kept going at it,” the mayor said.
“It’s amazing how they’ve kept the campaign going. It just makes you feel proud … Four years of hard work, then it comes to fruition, and thank God for that.”