Murugappan family allowed to return to Biloela on bridging visas

The Murugappan family has been allowed to return to the Queensland town of Biloela following intervention by interim Home Affairs Minister Jim Chalmers.

He said he used ministerial intervention to bring the Tamil family, who are currently in community detention in Perth, back to their home in outback Queensland.

The decision is the latest development in a years-long battle over the family's residential status in Australia, although it does not grant them permanent residency – they are being allowed to return to their Queensland home on bridging visas.

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"Today, in my capacity as interim Minister for Home Affairs, I exercised my power under section 195A of the Migration Act 1958 to intervene in the case of the Murugappan family," Chalmers said in a statement.

"The effect of my intervention enables the family to return to Biloela, where they can reside lawfully in the community on bridging visas while they work towards the resolution of their immigration status, in accordance with Australian law."

"This decision will allow them to get 'home to Bilo', a big-hearted and welcoming Queensland town that has embraced this beautiful family."

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Chalmers said the Labor government would continue to support Operation Sovereign Borders, which states any asylum seeker arriving in the country by boat will be turned away and not resettled in Australia.

The attempted deportation of the Murugappan family was one of the most contentious issues of the previous government.

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There were 'happy tears' as the Murugappan family watched the election results unfold.

The case had been in and out of court for years, with the previous immigration minister declining to intervene in their favour.

Labor promised during the campaign if it won the election the Murugappan family could return home to Biloela, ending a long legal battle to remain in Australia.

Labor MP Madeleine King, based in the Western Australian seat of Brand, said the family's return was a "priority".

"Our commitment is that the Biloela family will go home to Biloela," she said.

"I understand they have a community there that adores them and would like them to go home."

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The family have been living in immigration detention on Christmas Island since 2019, after they were removed from their home in Biloela, Queensland by Border Force officers in 2018.

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