Tamil family will stay on Christmas Island until fate sealed
A Tamil family who made their home in Biloela will remain in legal limbo on Christmas Island for the foreseeable future, with their deportation case now hinging on an upcoming court battle.
This afternoon, just before an order preventing their forcible removal to Sri Lanka expired, Federal Court judge Mordy Bromberg announced the family had a legal case that needed to be decided at trial.
The family, whose case rests on their two-year-old daughter and her right to apply for a protection visa, now cannot be deported by the Australian government until the matter is decided through the court system.
A date has not yet been set for their case to be heard.
Earlier today, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the family would remain on Christmas Island "for their own safety" for months if their case drags on.
Mr Dutton said if the family won today's hearing their case would still continue on, as the government could take it to higher courts.
Mr Dutton said "the violence and activism of some of the supporters" meant they could not be kept onshore in Australia.
"In this case they're living effectively out in the community on Christmas Island," he told 2GB radio.
"It is the best place for the family until the matter is resolved. It could go on for some months. I hope it comes to a conclusion very quickly.
"That's the safest place for a number of reason, particularly given the violence and the activism of some of the supporters of this family."
Mr Dutton said when the plane originally meant to deport the family was to leave Tullamarine airport last month, activists "cut through the fence and chained themselves to the front of the plane".
"The advice to me from the Commissioner of Australian Border Force in terms of protection of the family as well as his own staff is that they are better held on Christmas Island," he said.
"They're not in detention, but living close by, they have the support they need."
He said the case would still likely drag on for months.
"It's infuriating in many ways. I'm conscious of how much the Australian taxpayer pays towards this and people work hard for their moneys," the Home Affairs Minister said.
"The longer people are here, they will say we're mean and heartless for not releasing them into the community."