Shorten vows to reopen Queensland Tamil family case if elected

“I’m promising to reopen the matter and I’m promising to give it consideration.”

Priya and Nadesalingam with their two Australian-born children.

Priya and Nadesalingam with their two Australian-born children.

Mr Shorten will also ask Immigration Minister David Coleman to hold off on making a decision about the case until after the election.

The family – Priya, her husband Nadesalingam and their Australian-born daughters Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 23 months, were popular and well integrated members of a Queensland community until they were detained.

In the dying days of the election campaign supporters of the family will travel to Mr Coleman’s marginal Sydney electorate of Banks to ask him to intervene in the case and keep them in Australia.

Angela Fredericks and other friends of the family will travel from the tiny central Queensland town of Biloela for the family, who had lived there for four years before it was deemed they did not qualify for refugee status.


About 400 supporters will rally in Melbourne on Wednesday to highlight the family’s value to the community and raise concerns about returning them to Sri Lanka, where Priya’s ex-fiance and five other men were burned to death before her eyes.

“We’re really fearful they could be deported any moment … so we’re just praying that if we’re in his seat of Banks and we create enough buzz he can’t ignore us,” Ms Fredericks said.

She said former Socceroo Craig Foster who campaigned to free refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi from a Thai prison will help present a 189,000-signature petition calling for the family’s release to Mr Coleman’s office.

A spokesman for Mr Coleman said he would not comment on specific cases.

Former Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs says the minister has the power to grant a visa to someone when it’s in the public interest.

Tamil Refugee Council spokesman Aran Mylvaganam said Nadesalingam’s life could be in danger if sent back to Sri Lanka due to links to the Tamil Tiger separatist organisation.


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