Protesters call on O'Dowd to support Biloela Tamil family
FRIENDS, neighbours and supporters of a Tamil family facing deportation rallied in Gladstone on Saturday morning to call for a fair go.
Hoping to deliver a message to Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd, Biloela resident Angela Fredericks,and friend of the Sri Lankan couple Priya and Nadesalingam, led the rally up Goondoon St to Mr O'Dowd's office.
It was one of five Home to Bilo campaign rallies held across the nation, with other gatherings held in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.
Priya and Nades have until February 1 to fight to stay in Australia after their deportation appeal was dismissed in Federal Court last month.
"We're calling for Ken O'Dowd to step up and help us bring the Tamil family home to Biloela," Ms Fredericks said.
"The people of Biloela are not backing down from supporting this family and we really need him to step up our fight for us."
At dawn on March 5, 2018, the Tamil asylum seekers were removed from their Biloela home and taken into custody by Border Force officials, one day after Priya's bridging visa had expired.
The family has spent the past ten months in a Melbourne detention centre.
"What it boils down to is Australian's protection obligations currently do not cover Sri Lankan Tamils," Ms Fredericks said.
"This is against the advice of the UN, Amnesty International and reports on the ground that Tamil people continue to be persecuted."
In a statement released on Friday, Flynn MP Mr O'Dowd said he had asked the Immigration Minister on numerous occasions to save the family from deportation.
"It has been made very clear to me, that politicians cannot intervene in immigration matters which are handled by the Immigration Department and the Courts," the statement said.
"This situation is very sad and frustrating for many.
"However government policy dictates that only genuine refugees are allowed to stay in Australia.
"I have made sure that the family have had good legal representation throughout the court hearings."
But Ms Fredericks refutes that claim and says Mr O'Dowd has not offered the family support.
On Friday, lawyers for the family filed an application for special leave to take Priya's case to the High Court.
"Australia is the land of the fair go, these are our mates and you don't give up on them," Ms Fredericks said.