A federal Liberal MP has called for a Tamil family being detained on Christmas Island to be allowed to return to the Queensland community of Biloela.
As Tharnicaa Murugappan marks her fourth birthday in hospital, the member for North Sydney Trent Zimmerman said there had been an “enormous outpouring of goodwill” towards her family.
“I think it is time that we brought them back from Christmas Island and that we do look at providing them a long-term future in Biloela and the community that has been so supportive of their aspirations,” he told the ABC.
Mr Zimmerman said he had spoken to Immigration Minister Alex Hawke and encouraged him to “look favourably” on an application to use his powers to allow them to stay in Australia.
“It is a very difficult case because firstly, every court has found that this family are not entitled to refugee status and other Tamils have gone back to Sri Lanka, something like 1,500 of them,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“So it very much has to be an exception to the rule because we don’t want to start people risking their lives coming by boat.
“But I think that in this case, there are strong compassionate grounds and an outpouring from the Australian community supporting their ability to stay in the community that has adopted them so strongly.”
Birthday wishes for Tharnicaa as she recovers in hospital
Tharnicaa Murugappan remains in a stable condition at Perth Children’s Hospital after being medically evacuated from Christmas Island earlier this week.
Change.org released a video of father Nades and older sister Kopika wishing her a happy fourth birthday as they both blew kisses to the camera.
“Happy birthday Tharnicaa. I miss you, I love you Tharnicaa,” they said.
Australian entertainers Miranda Tapsell, Justine Clarke and Dan Sultan were also among those who recorded themselves performing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, said to be Tharnicaa’s favourite song.
Family friend Angela Fredericks said supporters would continue to campaign for the family’s release from immigration detention.
“Knowing that little Tharni is spending her fourth birthday detained in hospital, under guard, and separated from her big sister and dad just breaks my heart,” she said in a statement.
“Tharni should be running around Lions Park in Bilo today, enjoying a big birthday cake while her mum and dad watch on.”