Qld town wants asylum seekers back home

March 15, 2018

A petition has asked for Peter Dutton to allow an asylum seeker family to return to Queensland.

The person behind the campaign to bring an asylum seeker family back home to their small Queensland town believes the groundswell of support it has received is the start of something bigger.

More than 78,000 people have signed a petition to return Tamils Nadesalingam, Priya and their two Australian-born daughters to Biloela, 120 kilometres inland from the port city of Gladstone.

Biloela resident Angela Fredericks started the petition, which calls on Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to let the family return to the town.

The community held a vigil for the family on Wednesday night where Ms Fredericks spoke.

She said other asylum-seeker families, who were in similar situations, had contacted her from around Australia asking how they'd made so many people listen.

"My response is we've got an amazing town, an amazing group of people," she told the crowd.

"This is the start of something much bigger.

"The fight is not over."

Cards with messages from the community to the family were displayed.

"Stay strong. We are supporting you and will bring you home to Bilo," one said.

"We miss you. Come back to Biloela safe," said another.

Border force officials removed the family from their home more than a week ago and put them in a Melbourne detention centre.

Tamil Refugee Council spokesman Ben Hillier said they were handcuffed and taken in separate vans to Melbourne Airport on Tuesday, flown to Perth and placed on a flight to Sri Lanka.

But a last-minute legal intervention resulted in them being removed from the plane before it took off.

It's understood the couple came to Australia separately by boat in 2012 and 2013, following Sri Lanka's civil war.

They settled in Biloela on a bridging visa, which has since expired.

A Department of Home Affairs spokesman said the family's case had been assessed over many years.

"They have consistently been found not to meet Australia's protection obligations," he said.

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