The government is right to follow the general rule of allowing asylum seekers to apply for refugee status and if rejected to apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a ruling. If the grounds put forward for the appeal are rejected then they should be returned to the country of origin. However, there have been in the past many cases where the circumstances dictate that a ministerial intervention be requested usually on humanitarian grounds. I personally have been part of a number of applications in the past of which a number of cases have been successful. I was part of a request for intervention in the case of a young Iranian Christian man who was fleeing persecution. He is now an Australian citizen, a member of a local church and my wife and I were invited to his wedding.
Part of the problem is that the examination of asylum claims take far too long and in the case of the young Tamil couple it meant that they had children in Australia and became integrated in the Australian community. Time limits on refugee application processing would do much to assist.
I know both the Immigration Minister David Coleman and the Prime Minister Scott Morrison well and they are both compassionate people. I understand their position that they do not want to establish precedents but this case surely cries out for ministerial intervention. At the bottom line Australians want their borders safe and strong but Australians are also known for their kindness, inclusiveness and compassion.
It is time to let this young Tamil family and their two Australian-born daughters stay in Australia.
Bruce Baird is a former Liberal Party federal MP and NSW minister.