A Tamil asylum seeker family due to be deported from Australia to Sri Lanka overnight has been granted a last-minute injunction by a Melbourne judge seeking to block the move.
The family landed in Darwin on Friday just before 3am after the injunction was granted mid-flight over the phone.
On Thursday night, a plane carrying Priya, her husband Nadesalingam and their two Australian-born daughters, Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 2, boarded a plane that departed Melbourne Airport around 11pm.
Protestors determined to stop the family’s deportation made their way onto the tarmac, holding signs and chanting “Let them stay” as the family was forced onto the plane.
— Nic Holas (@nicheholas) August 29, 2019
However, lawyers acting for the family’s supporters say they have won an interim injunction in the Melbourne Federal Circuit Court.
The orders made by Judge Heather Riley state that the Minister for Immigration David Coleman be restrained from removing the family from the Commonwealth of Australia until 12pm midday on August 30, 2019.
A hearing has been listed for 10am on Friday before Judge Riley at the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in Melbourne.
Emergency: deportation attempt- supporters please go to Melbourne Airport and support this family with peaceful action now. Please share. pic.twitter.com/YTG8Agxxur
— HometoBilo (@HometoBilo) August 29, 2019
However, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the family were not refugees and did not deserve Australia’s protection.
Mr Dutton said it was time for Priya and her husband Nadesalingam, who came separately to Australia by boat to escape Sri Lanka’s civil war, to go back.
Immigration officials and a succession of courts, right up to the High Court, had not found in favour of the asylum seeker couple and their two Australian born daughters, he said.
“I would like the family to accept that they are not refugees, they’re not owed protection by our country,” Mr Dutton told Nine’s Today program on Friday.
Biloela resident Angela Fredericks, who is behind the campaign to keep the family in Australia, said she is unsure what will happen to them now.
“I’d dare say they’d be escorted off the plane then I’d say they would be back in a detention centre so whether they will be flown back to Melbourne I don’t know,” Ms Fredericks told AAP.
Priya and Nadesalingam came to Australia separately by boat in 2012 and 2013 following Sri Lanka’s civil war.
They lived in Biloela in Queensland for four years on a temporary bridging visa before it ran out in March 2018.
The family were then taken from their home by Border Force Officers during the night and placed in a Melbourne detention centre.
The High Court denied their final bid to stay in May 2018.
Last week the family discovered their bid to stay in the country had been rejected, with supporters calling on the federal immigration minister to reconsider.
Supporters say the family could be in serious danger if sent back to Sri Lanka, where thousands of Tamils have disappeared during the decades-long Sri Lankan civil war.
Like many of you I can't sleep as I await the unfolding events of #hometobilo I am enraged by the people who have the privilege of power in this country, and their wanton destruction of life, of people, community, and country.
— Amy Thunig (@AmyThunig) August 29, 2019
The family has received strong support from Australians with more than 200,000 people signing an online petition to prevent them from being sent back.
The Department of Immigration had previously stated the family’s case had been assessed over many years.