Tamil family court fight to stay continues
A Tamil family will remain in legal limbo on Christmas Island for the foreseeable future, with their deportation case now hinging on an upcoming court battle, possibly months away.
Federal Court judge Mordy Bromberg on Thursday made an order blocking the family's deportation until a visa fight is heard and determined at trial.
His judgment came about an hour before the expiration of an injunction preventing their forcible removal to Sri Lanka.
A date has not yet been set for their case to be heard but the process could take months according to the family's lawyer.
In the meantime Priya and Nades Murugappan and their daughters Kopika, four, and Tharunicaa, two, remain in "mental torture" on Christmas Island.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton insists they are living in a house, close to facilities including a school and swimming pool.
"That is a complete lie ... we are kept inside this detention centre ... we have no access to go outside this compound," Priya told Sky News through an interpreter following the court decision.
The upcoming legal trial will focus on Tharunicaa and her right to apply for a protection visa.
Her parents and sibling have already been refused refugee status, but the family is being kept together while the matter is finalised.
Despite being born in Australia, Tharunicaa would normally also be refused Australia's protection as she is legally considered an "unauthorised maritime arrival" because her parents arrived by boat.
But in a new argument aired in the Federal Court this week, Tharunicaa should still be entitled to apply for a protection visa following a period in 2017 when Mr Dutton "lifted the bar" for boat arrivals.
Justice Bromberg said the family had a prima facie case that Tharunicaa's visa application was valid, and until that application was finally determined, the federal government had no power to deport her.
He said the family also had a case against deportation while an assessment was undertaken into whether forcibly removing the child would infringe Australia's international obligations.
"In that context, (Tharunicaa) seeks an interlocutory injunction restraining her removal from Australia until her proceedings in this court have been heard and determined at trial," he said.
Justice Bromberg added because Tharunicaa's legal team had established a case to be determined at trial, an injunction preventing their removal was justified.
Mr Dutton said he respected the decision but was frustrated the case was dragging on, costing Australian taxpayers.
He said he had extended every possible allowance in the case, including allowing them to live and work in the community in the Queensland township of Biloela.
While the family awaits a final ruling, the minister said Christmas Island was the safest place for them and they would not incur any debt as a result of the ongoing court case, as previously feared if the government was to pursue legal costs.
"It is very difficult to live on Christmas Island. There is no proper safety here. Children feel lonely," Priya said.
"We have been circled by the so-called guards. They are capturing every moment of our lives on camera. We feel like they monitoring us every single minute. It is mental torture."
The family had previously settled in Biloela before they were moved to a Melbourne detention centre.
They were forcibly removed on August 29, but their flight was grounded due to a late-night court injunction.
© AAP 2019