Nadesalingam family have message to Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton after returning home to Biloela


Tamil family share a message to Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton after being released from four years of detention

  • Nadesalingam family are back living in Biloela for the first time in four years
  • Opened up about lonely time in immigration detention and on Christmas Island
  • Had a surprising response when asked about Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton
  • Family believes ordeal will discourage others from fleeing Sri Lanka by boat 

The Tamil family at the centre of a four-year immigration battle have no bad feelings towards former Prime Minister Scott Morrison, despite spending four years in detention.

The Nadesalingam family have returned home to Biloela in outback Queensland for the first time since Border Force officials took them away in 2018.

Nades and Priya and their two daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa returned to a hero’s welcome on Friday and spent the weekend celebrating their homecoming with the community.

The new Labor government has granted the family bridging visas while their immigration status is being resolved.

The family have opened up on their lonely time in immigration detention, including a two-year stint on Christmas Island to The Project co-host Lisa Wilkinson.

The couple were asked about their views on Mr Morrison and former immigration minister Peter Dutton, who both wanted to keep them in detention.

Nades and Priya Nadesalingam (pictured) have wished former Prime Minister Scott Morrison a good life, despite spending the last four years in immigration detention

Nades and Priya Nadesalingam (pictured) have wished former Prime Minister Scott Morrison a good life, despite spending the last four years in immigration detention

‘I wish his life is a good life, but I don’t worry,’ Priya said.

Wilkinson responded: ‘You wish Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton a good life?’

‘Yes, a good life,’ Priya replied.

The family’s two-year stint as the sole occupants on Christmas Island cost taxpayers $30 million.

‘Very hard, lonely feeling. No other detainees. No good medical,’ Priya said.

‘My children’s childhood lost. My beauty, my everything lost in four years.

In June last year, Tharnicaa got seriously ill with sepsis caused by untreated pneumonia and had to be airlifted to Perth’s Children’s Hospital for emergency treatment.

Tharnicaa, who turned five on Sunday, remembers that time well.

‘My sister looked after me,’ she said.

The Nadesalingam family's homecoming coincided with Tharnicaa's fifth birthday on Sunday

The Nadesalingam family’s homecoming coincided with Tharnicaa’s fifth birthday on Sunday

The Nadesalingams believe their story will discourage others from arriving in Australia by boat, despite reports about several boatloads of refugees leaving Sri Lanka bound for Australia.

The couple arrived in Australia by boat a decade ago as asylum seekers fleeing the civil war in Sri Lanka.

‘This life is very hard,’ Nades said.

He wants to open Bilo’s first Sri Lankan restaurant in the future, while his wife wants to help other refugees.

They’re thrilled with their new three-bedroom home.

‘It feels happy. Good sunshine in the house,’ Priya said.

Both Kopika and Tharnicaa want to become doctors when they grow up.

‘Because we get to help people and give medicine,’ Kopika said.

But not everyone in Biloela is happy the family is back.

‘I think it’s because they might think all the boats will turn up again, and we will have to go through all that stuff and people dying at sea,’ Banana Shire Mayor Nev Ferrier told the program.

‘Nobody wants to see that. Anybody with a heart or knows the family, knows that that is not what that is about.’

Priya and Nades Nadesalingam and their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa arrived in Biloela to a hero's welcome on Friday, four years after they were removed from the outback town

Priya and Nades Nadesalingam and their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa arrived in Biloela to a hero’s welcome on Friday, four years after they were removed from the outback town

But family supporter Angela Fredericks believes people will find a way to flee and protest their families if they’re in danger..

‘There is no queue. You know, at the end of the day, people are just going to do what they need to do to stay alive. There is no queue,’ she said.

‘There is not an orderly fashion to this. It’s about life or death.’

At the end of the segment, Wilkinson addressed why Priya and Nades still struggle with their English.

‘Due to their visa situation, they couldn’t access the appropriate government program and when they were in the community, they would have had to take time off work to go to lessons and with a very meagre income, that was a luxury they could not afford, she explained.

‘But they definitely want to get their English going now.’

Priya and Nades Nadesalingam and their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa were special guests at the  Flourish Multicultural Festival in Biloela on Saturday

Priya and Nades Nadesalingam and their daughters Kopika and Tharnicaa were special guests at the  Flourish Multicultural Festival in Biloela on Saturday

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