Tharnicaa, the youngest member of the Biloela family, has been treated at Perth Children's Hospital. Image by PR HANDOUT IMAGE PHOTO

politics

Minister questions Biloela girl’s sickness

2021-06-16 13:47:13

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has sensationally claimed a young girl evacuated from Christmas Island to the mainland for medical treatment was not as sick as people believed.

Tharnicaa Murugappan, the youngest member of the Biloela asylum-seeker family, was taken to Perth Children’s Hospital for treatment.

The four-year-old has been diagnosed with pneumonia and blood poisoning, which could take months to resolve.

Ms Andrews claimed the child’s illness had been overstated.

“A lot of the reporting about the illness the child is suffering from is inaccurate,” she told 4BC radio on Wednesday.

“I can’t answer anything that would give details of this child’s medical condition other than to say a lot of the reporting has been inaccurate.

“The illness the child is suffering and is in hospital for has been well and truly treated, in the advice I have been given.”

Labor frontbencher Andrew Giles described the minister’s comments as careless and callous.

“Tharnicaa got so sick in detention that she had to be evacuated to a Perth hospital where she remains,” Mr Giles said.

“The minister should reflect on her comments. And she must apologise.”

Tharnicaa remains under medical care in hospital.

Her family has been reunited in Perth after spending the past two years on Christmas Island

Father Nades and six-year-old Kopika flew to the mainland on a charter plane on Tuesday night, joining Tharnicaa and her mother Priya.

The head of the West Australian health department wrote to the Home Affairs department last week advising the Murugappan family be reunited in Perth.

It was not a plea for compassion but based on the clinical advice of Tharnicaa’s treating doctors that she must be with family.

They are being sent into community detention in Perth but are no closer to returning to their outback Queensland home.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is yet to make a decision on whether any of the family members can reapply to stay in Australia.

Mr Hawke said the government had compassion for the two Australian-born girls but granting a permanent visa to their asylum-seeker parents would “absolutely” start a flood of people-smuggling boats.

Labor has joined with the Biloela community in calling for the Tamil family to be returned to the country town.

The family has been locked up since 2018 while their fight against deportation has gone through the courts.

The family will remain in community detention after Tharnicaa is released from hospital and stay in Perth until their legal case is resolved.