Shorten inspired by Sri Lankan asylum seekers' plight
THE plight of a Sri Lankan asylum-seeking family forced from their Biloela home has helped shape Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's views on immigration.
Speaking at a question-and-answer session in Bundaberg this week Mr Shorten said some of his party's ideas on immigration had been inspired by the community campaign to save the Biloela family - Priya and Nades and their daughters Kopika and Tharunicaa.
The family can be deported at any time after February 2 with the Federal Government refusing to intervene in the case.
Nades and Priya arrived in Australia separately by boat, in 2011 and 2013, to escape the Sri Lankan Civil War.
They have been in detention since March when Priya's bridging visa expired.
Mr Shorten said if elected Labor would introduce a "community taste" arrangement as a way for people to seek refuge in Australia.
"I get we can't take everyone who wants to come here - and we're not going to - and we're not going to allow the people smugglers back into business," Mr Shorten said.
"One idea we have come up with, which was inspired by the generosity of Queenslanders from Biloela, is we want to create a community-taste sponsored refugee arrangement."
Mr Shorten said if a community welcomed a family or person and they have had the relevant checks, that person or family should be allowed to stay. "I'm not going to tell Biloela who they should and shouldn't have, I'm happy to let the community make that decision and I think that will take some of the sting out of the debate," he said.
Last week the family's lawyers filed an application for special leave to take Priya's case to the High Court.