I’m on the record as a staunch advocate for the compassionate treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. I’ve even crossed the floor of the parliament and voted against my party and copped the political fallout!
However, our legal system has found that these children are not refugees. I feel desperately sad for the Murugappan family. The children have been caught up in a terrible situation – detaining children offshore is unconscionable. I’ve never supported offshore detention.
I’m not a member of the government’s Executive so I do not understand why the family has been detained on Christmas Island and at great expense to the taxpayer.
The circumstances surrounding the Murugappan family are complex. Their detention on Christmas Island has been exacerbated by lengthy court proceedings. Children born in Australia to parents that are non-residents are not deemed to be Australian citizens.
Mr Murugappan has returned to Sri Lanka as Fran Kelly reported on ABC Radio on 16 June and therefore cannot be considered to be a refugee. Of course, our hearts to go out to the children. We must retain our humanity and compassion. I have always viewed refugees and asylum seekers through this lens.
However, governing the nation is hard, and we have to make decisions in line with the law of the land – and it appears to me that neither the government nor Labor intend to change the law.
That’s just as I see it.