SENATOR KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
SKY NEWS AFTERNOON AGENDA
TUESDAY 20 APRIL 2021
SUBJECTS: Biloela Family; Border Security.
KIERAN GILBERT, HOST: In the meantime, a few other interesting stories one you spoke to the shadow Home Affairs Minister Kristina Keneally a few hours ago.
ANDREW CLENNELL, HOST: Yes, she spoke to me this morning after a visit to Christmas Island to the Biloela Sri Lankan family who've now spent three years in detention - Priya and Nades Murugappan and their two little children. Keneally is seeking to lobby for the family’s release, arguing new Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has the ministerial discretion power to quietly release them back to their community of Biloela in rural Queensland. She speaks to the mental state of the family, their conditions, how they believe the father will be killed if they returned to Sri Lanka and have community support for their release. Keneally here, I had to speak to her by phone there wasn't video access, also counts as the fact that there are thousands of others who came by boat before 2013 in Australia on bridging visas who are in no man's land, she argues they could be quietly dealt with.
KRISTINA KENEALLY, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: The youngest child is only three years old. She was taken into immigration detention by the Government at eight months, she has known nothing else in her life except living behind bars and under guard. They live in two rooms. They have basically a box with two rooms. They're both bedrooms, but one bedroom really for them functions as where they keep all their clothes and their, their belongings. The fact of the matter is they're living effectively in isolation. Clearly Priya, the mother, is lonely and depressed.
CLENNELL: What about this Government argument Karen Andrews mounted again, that if you, if you grant visas to these sorts of people, the people smugglers grab hold of that, they use that, they advertise, others are encouraged to mount media campaigns and all the rest to get around the orderly nature of the immigration system. What do you make of all that?
KENEALLY: Nobody wants to see the people smugglers restart their evil trade. The challenge we have is that there are tens of thousands of people who have been in Australia now for, some for more than a decade, who are settled, who, who are building businesses, raising families, and they can't go back due to wars or closed borders. And we do need a way to resolve those issues. And in many of those cases, it may be that ministerial discretion is the right decision - way to go. It's discreet, it doesn't send a broadcast message to people smugglers.
CLENNELL: What do you think the future holds for this family? Do you think the Government will move to deport them? Do you think they could be in detention indefinitely? Where do you think they end up?
KENEALLY: This is turning into a very intractable situation, but what the future might hold really sits on Minister Karen Andrews desk now. You know, the most difficult aspect of my visit was saying goodbye to particularly those two little girls. They give great hugs those little girls and as I hugged them, I thought I don't know what their lives will be like.