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
WEDNESDAY, 21 APRIL 2021
SUBJECTS: Biloela Family; Border Security.
DAVID KOCH, HOST: Kristina Keneally has only been back from Christmas Island a couple of hours. She joins us now. Senator, thanks for making time for us. First up, how's the family doing?
KRISTINA KENEALLY, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: Well, David, as you can imagine, it's incredibly stressful living in immigration detention. They live in two small rooms, the whole family sleeps in one bedroom. The the other room is where they stack their clothes on top of another single bed.
But they're incredibly stressed. Everywhere they go, they have guards. When the girls go to school, they're taken by security guards. If they want to go somewhere, they have to request three days ahead of time and if it's denied, there's no recourse for them. And the youngest daughter, she has lived her whole life in immigration detention. She knows nothing else.
And Kochi, these are the last two children in Australia anywhere who are in immigration detention. And when I talk to Priya and Nades, it's clear that their most stress comes from the impact that immigration detention is having on their two young daughters.
KOCH: It does seem crazy, because keeping this family in detention has so far cost us all - the taxpayer - $15 million to date. Are you finding more bipartisan support to allow them back to Biloela?
KENEALLY: Well, that's the remarkable thing about the Bioela family is that they do enjoy bipartisan support, including from senior Coalition figures like Michael McCormack and Barnaby Joyce and Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott. You know, and they enjoy a wide range of support across the Australian community.
And what I'd like to say to your viewers today is that Nades and Priya are aware of the Home to Bilo campaign and all of the Australians that support them, and they're incredibly grateful, they tell me. Because it's the one thing that gives them any hope, is knowing that that regional community and Biloela, and indeed right across Australia, there are so many people that want to see their family be able to come home to their regional Queensland community.
KOCH: Okay, the government has strict border rules and stringent border rules for for for migrants illegally and in this case, so does Labor. You've been a - as a party - a supporter of what the Coalition has been doing. Is this a sign that Labor is softening its stance?
KENEALLY: David, that's not. What what we have here is not a discussion about what needs, how we manage the borders going forward. We are all in agreement, Labor and Liberal when it comes to boat turn-backs, where safe to do so, offshore processing and regional resettlement. Nobody wants to see the people smugglers restart their evil trade.
But what we have to make here is a decision about what to do about people who've been living in Australia for more than a decade who had, you know Nades worked two jobs in Biloela, Queensland; Priya was involved in local church groups and volunteered at the local hospital; Nades volunteered at Vinnies. These two little girls, this is their home, and we need to make a decision about what happens to them now.
And you know, David, when I spoke to Kopika, who's aged five, and she said to me, 'you know, all I want to do is go home to below, get in dad's car and go to the shops and see my friends.' And I thought, well, that's just what any kid her age wants. And all I could say to her is, 'I hope Kopika that you can do that soon.'
KOCH: Yeah. Kristina Keneally, appreciate the update. Thank you.
KENEALLY: Thank you.