Here to stay? PM says ‘no impediment’ to Biloela family’s permanent visa

The Nadesalingam family have spent their first day back in Biloela surrounded by friends, as the Prime Minister says he sees “no impediment” to them now obtaining a permanent visa.

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

Kopika, Priya ,Tharnicaa and Nades Nadesalingham arrive at the Flourish festival in Biloela on Saturday.Credit:Dan Peled/Getty Images

The family made a special appearance at the town’s multicultural Flourish Festival at the Biloela Civic Centre on Saturday afternoon, with the gathered crowd giving them a standing ovation.

“Thank you to everyone who came today to celebrate,” Priya said through an interpreter.

“It’s been a very hard life for us for the last four years.

“I feel fulfilled when I touch this land… I feel like I’m born again… I will dedicate my life to the Biloela community.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said there was “no impediment” to the family getting a permanent visa.Credit:Bianca De Marchi/The Sun Herald

Earlier in the day Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was asked about the family’s immigration status, as they have been given bridging visas but are still yet to receive permanent visas.

Albanese said the family had to be granted temporary visas initially because that was how the process worked, but he believed they would be getting more permanent visas in the near future.

“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.

It’s a packed weekend for the family – after their appearance at the festival on Saturday, they were preparing to celebrate Tharnicaa’s fifth birthday on Sunday.

It will be her first birthday outside of detention, as the family was first taken from the town in March 2018 when she was nine months old.

The Prime Minister said that was a stark reality that “Australia can’t be proud of”.

“A family including two young, little girls who were born here in Australia taken in the middle of the night and having four years in detention,” he said.

“The youngest girl will celebrate her fifth birthday, I think this weekend, soon and that will be the first birthday she has celebrated not in detention.

The family taking part in a smoking ceremony by Gangulu Elders at the start of the festival.Credit:Dan Peled/Getty Images

“We’re a better country than that. We can do better than that. My government will do better.”

Albanese said the Nadesalinghams had been working and paying taxes before their detention, with Nades employed at the local meatworks.

Given Australia had a “massive skill shortage” and the lack of people who wanted to do that sort of work, this should be welcomed.

The family was known as the Murugappans in reporting up until recently but have now clarified that they go by Nades’ full first name, Nadesalingam, in line with cultural practice.

The former coalition government tried to deport the asylum seekers to Sri Lanka in 2019, 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.

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

With Caitlin Fitzsimmons, AAP

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