Nothing is stopping the Nadesalingam family seeking permanent residency in Australia, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says, following the Tamil asylum seekers’ return to Biloela.

A full weekend of celebrations is under way in the central Queensland town after Priya and Nades Nadesalingam and their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa returned on Friday for the first time since being detained in March 2018.

The former coalition government tried to deport the asylum seekers to Sri Lanka, but an 11th-hour court injunction saw the four held at the Christmas Island detention centre for two years, then moved to community detention in Perth.

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Following the May election, the new Labor government gave the family permission to return to Biloela on bridging visas.

Asked on Saturday about the family seeking permanent residency, the prime minister said “those processes will take place”.

“The only way that it could happen is … the visa being issued, and then that application will go through. But I see no impediment to that occurring,” he told reporters in Sydney.

He described it as heartening to see the family return to their adopted home town, where they received a warm welcome at the airport on Friday.

The family were due to attend the Flourish Festival at the Biloela Civic Centre on Saturday afternoon before celebrating Tharni’s fifth birthday on Sunday.

Mr Albanese said a family with two young girls spending four years in detention was something that “Australia can’t be proud of”.

“We are a better country than that, we can do better than that,” he said.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
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