Nades and Priya Murugappan with their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa.

Nades and Priya Murugappan with their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa.

But the barrister for the federal government,Stephen Lloyd,SC,told the Federal Circuit and Family Court on Thursday that Mr Hawke had given an undertaking he would grant them a further three-month bridging visa from September 23 unless new adverse material came to light.

Lawyers for the Murugappan family are challenging a ministerial decision on June 22 preventing the three from reapplying for bridging visas.

They are arguing that there was a denial of procedural fairness because there was not a proper chance to comment on the decision.

The government says the deadline to comment – close of business on June 22 – meant 5pm and the family’s lawyer’s submission,which was sent at 5.45pm AEST,was too late.

But the family’s lawyer,Angel Aleksov,said it was not clear precisely when the deadline was to respond and where to send the submissions.

“We submit a measure of unreasonableness in the way that the department rushed into a decision without checking to see whether there was in fact a submission to them,” Mr Aleksov said.


“We say that is especially concerning in circumstances where there’s just such a long history of engagement between these two parties and their representatives specifically in relation to this particular part of the long-running battle.”

The hearing,before Judge Heather Riley,is adjourned until October 4.

The latest legal bid comes after the High Courtlast month refused to hear an appeal on behalf of the Murugappan family’s youngest daughter,four-year-old Tharnicaa,who was born in Australia along with her older sister.


Nadesalingam and Priya Murugappan fled Sri Lanka separately,coming by boat to Australia in 2012 and 2013,respectively.

They met and married in Australia and had their two daughters after settling in Biloela,a 6½ hour drive north of Brisbane,with a population of just under 6000.

In March 2018,they were taken from Biloela and sent to Christmas Island. Since then,courts and tribunals all the way up to the High Court have ruled the parents do not have refugee status.

In June,the Murugappan family was allowed to live in the Perth community while Tharnicaa was treated in hospital for sepsis,from which she has since recovered.

Mr Hawke decided to grant the parents and Kopika bridging visas on compassionate grounds,after the family spent two years in detention on Christmas Island. These expire on September 22.

The family are living in the community in Perth while their legal appeals play out.

They hope to return to Biloela.


Family friend Angela Fredericks,of the Home to Bilo group,says her friends are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the hearing:

“They’ve been through so much already,” Ms Fredericks said.

“We know that the majority of Australians want the Morrison government to let this family return to Biloela. Bilo wants them back. Nades has a permanent job there,the girls need their friends.”

Simone Cameron,a family friend and Mr Murugappan’s former English teacher in Biloela,said she was hugely relieved the three would be granted another bridging visa.

“We’ve all been terribly worried coming up to September 22,” Ms Cameron said. “This was a surprising way to get a bridging visa but we are very relieved for them.”

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