Minister Andrews - Home to Biloela

08 June 2021

The Hon Karen Andrews MP

Minister for Home Affairs

Parliament House

Canberra ACT, 2600


Dear Minister Andrews,

I am writing to express my own personal outrage, as well as that of my constituents, at the continued detention of the Murugappan family from Biloela on Christmas Island, and the hospitalisation of Tharunicaa in Perth Children’s Hospital due to pneumonia and suspected septicaemia. It is clear from the media reporting on the issue that Tharunicaa has been unwell since the 25th of May yet was only admitted to hospital on Christmas Island on Sunday 6 June, ten days after she developed initial symptoms. This is a disgrace.

A number of questions naturally arise from this recent development. Why was Tharunicaa denied access to medical attention for almost two weeks, despite showing serious symptoms? What conditions are the family experiencing in detention that would result in such a serious illness? Why are these children, both born in Australia, still on Christmas Island after three years of being held in detention? Why were both parents not allowed to accompany Tharunicaa to Perth?

As you know, this family has been accepted by the wider community in Biloela. The family have abided by the conditions of their bridging visas, obeyed Australia’s laws, paid taxes and contributed to the Biloela community before their detention. There is now considerable support from both sides of politics for the release of this family – including former Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull, and current Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.

By continuing to hold this family in detention, you are imprisoning these two young girls. This is abhorrent and completely unnecessary. Kopika and Tharunicaa have lived in detention for most of their short lives and have previously experienced severe health issues due to their living conditions in the detention centre. We should not have children facing such severe medical conditions in detention centres, under any circumstances.

As Home Affairs Minister, you have the power to intervene and allow this family to remain in Australia. I urge you to exercise this power. This saga has gone on for too long, and it is time to bring this family back home to Biloela.





Alicia Payne MP

Member for Canberra