Green’s leader Richard Di Natale and the Liberal Party’s Peter Dutton have bumped heads over the possible deportation of a Tamil family back to Sri Lanka after the home affairs minister claimed as they’re not refugees they are not owed protection by Australia.
The family of four, including mum Priya, her husband Nadesalingam and their two Australian-born daughters were set to return to their home country by plane on Thursday night from Melbourne after being removed from the the Queensland town of Biloela late last year. But the deportation was stopped in its tracks when the family learnt mid-flight that they could stay in Australia for now with a federal court judge intervening and granting an injunction over the phone.
The plane was then diverted to Darwin with the family still set to learn whether they will be able to stay in Australia or if they will have to return to Sri Lanka. Speaking about the impending decision by the court on Sunday, Di Natale called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take action and let the four remain living in the Land Down Under.
“The prime minister needs to intervene, needs to use ministerial discretion, which exists within the act, and make it very clear that this family should stay here in Australia,” he explained to Sky News. “That the Biloela community have welcomed them in with open arms while the government has turned its back.”
Di Natale continued: “This is a family that has committed no crime, they’ve witnessed unspeakable cruelty in their home country. Here is the opportunity for the prime minister to show some compassion and decency to do the right thing and let them stay.”
While the Greens leader received a lot of praise from fellow Aussies who were protesting for the family’s right to stay, others, including Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton have not agreed with his stance. Taking to Twitter on Sunday night Dutton hit back at Di Natale for his words and claimed the politician is responsible for the deaths of many.
Richard Di Natale supported decisions that resulted in 1200 people drowning at sea. His comments today are self-indulgent and promote nothing more than his own failed agenda. They are disgusting and should be condemned.
— Peter Dutton (@PeterDutton_MP) September 1, 2019
“Richard Di Natale supported decision that resulted in 1,200 people drowning at sea,” he wrote on the post. “His comments today are self-indulgent and promote nothing more than his own failed agenda. They are disgusting and should be condemned.”
Some were in agreement with Dutton with one person commenting: “Keep at it sir. Your detractors are trying to destroy our country one way or another. You are saving this nation and they cannot seek it. Thank you.”
While others were on Di Natale’s side writing: “Listen to what the people want. #LetThemStay #HomeToBilo. You represent the people. Please show compassion to this family and their Aus born daughters.”
Dutton has been very firm on his stance on the topic, appearing on the Today show last week where he said like other families that have arrived in the Land Down Under, they should return to Sri Lanka. “This case has gone on for a long time,” he explained.
“I would like the family to accept that they are not refugees. That they’re not owed protection by our country. They came here by boat and we’ve been very clear that they wouldn’t stay.” @PeterDutton_MP on a Queensland family set to be deported back to Sri Lanka. #9Today pic.twitter.com/up4joPlyXO
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) August 29, 2019
“It’s been through decision makers at the department, it’s been to the tribunal, it’s been on review to the Magistrate’s Court, it’s been on review to the Federal Court, to the full Federal Court, to the High Court. All of those have found that these people aren’t refugees.”
While Dutton acknowledged that the situation would have been distressing for the parents and their two young daughters, the family had known for a long time they wouldn’t be allowed to stay in Australia. He claimed there are 1,500 people in the same circumstance that have already gone back to Sri Lanka and that’s what they need to accept.
“I would like the family to accept that they are not refugees,” he told host Deb Knight. “That they’re not owed protection by our country. They came here by boat and we’ve been very clear that they wouldn’t stay.”