A local federal government backbencher and the Victorian Premier have voiced their support for an Irish family facing deportation.
Federal member for the seat of Nicholls Damian Drum is backing the Hyde family’s bid to remain in Australia and says Immigration Minister David Coleman is reviewing their case.
“I am waiting for the Minister to get an opportunity to look through the file. It will be done probably within the week,” he told the Irish Echo.
“I’ll be in constant contact with the Minister on this one and we are hopeful that we can get a good decision but we are not in a position to make a call on it yet,” he said.
Christine and Anthony Hyde’s application for permanent residency was refused because their son Darragh, 3, has cystic fibrosis.
Unless the Minister intervenes, the family who have lived in the north Victorian town of Seymour for 10 years, must leave the country by June 18.
“I spoke to David (Coleman) on this case,” Mr Drum said. “The Minister is in a very difficult position here. This situation where you have people out here on work visas who have children with severe disabilities, there is a real potential that this could cost the country millions of dollars and everyone understands that.
“If the Minister intervenes in this case, it will set a precedent so we have to be very careful,” he explained.
Despite this, the Nationals MP said he feels “relatively confident” after his conversations with the Minister.
He added: “There’s still a lot of work to be done in relation to all the data that goes into the appeal, all the data that the Hydes need to present. All that data has to find its way from the Department to the Minister.”
Mr Drum said he became involved in the case at the request of the local community.
“Many people from within the community have been stopping me and saying: ‘Can you help this family?’”
He said the Hydes have proven that “they are making a substantial contribution to our nation.”
Christine works as assistant principal at a local primary school and Anthony works as a bus driver.
An online petition calling for the Hydes to be allowed to remain in Australia has received over 100,000 signatures.
Mr Drum said: “The family has got the backing of the local community –I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.
“As local MPs we get lots of requests in this regard and my first answer is always to refuse a letter of recommendation for people that I haven’t met.
“I went against my strict rule in relation to letters of support in this case. I’ve only done that on the back of a strong letter of recommendation from the school where Christine Hyde works.”
The Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews has also thrown his support behind the Hydes saying “They’re effectively Aussies.”
The Labor MP said: “This is a great family. They’ve been SES volunteers and school teachers in their local schools, they’ve have contributed over the past 10 years.
“The young boy was born here, some compassion and some common sense (is needed).
“There’ll be some costs for the medical treatment he needs, but there will be so many more benefits to Seymour, to that local community and indeed for all of us.”
Christine and Anthony Hyde applied for permanent residency in 2015 before Darragh was born.
Shortly after his birth, the toddler was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and their application was rejected on the basis that his illness would be a burden on the state.
The family argued that Darragh’s condition is mild and have doctors reports to back that up.
They also argued that Darragh is Australian born and therefore should not be forced to leave..
“Darragh is Australian –he was born in Australia and has never set foot out of Australia. He’s never been to Ireland. It’s really unfair,” explained Christine.
Christine Hyde told The Irish Echo the message she would like to get to the minister.
"Just read the case. Just read our story. Just take it in, read the facts and make a decision: Yes or no. I believe any person that reads our case, like the many others who have, that have a heart and have a bit of compassion will see the unique circumstances around our situation and will say ‘yes’. But I don't even know if they're going to read our case,” she said.
"I have no idea what we're doing. i honestly don't know where to begin. There's parts of me that says, 'It will be fine, don't worry about it'. Then there's parts of you thinking, 'What if we're not? Do we need to start packing?' Where do we begin with this? This is our home of ten years, how do you begin to pack that up in 28 days? We still have to work. We can't just stop life either so I don't know where we are with it at all.
"You don't want to get to a point where you've got ten days and it's a no. Who can pack up in ten days? Get out of the lease and sell a few cars, it's not realistic.
"If they just gave us an answer at least we would have some time to sort things out. There's no point giving us an answer on 17th June when we're supposed to be out of the country on the 18th.
"You have to have that in the back of your head and worry about it as well. We don't want to be seen as the people who overstayed a visa or anything like that. It's not us, we want to follow the request. if the request is to leave by the 18th of June, so be it. We'll do that. Don't tell us on 17th June that the answer is a ‘no’, that you're not going to intervene.
"Now there's a timeline on it, now we have an end date to this, it's like, 'Come on'. I don't know what to do."
“We don’t want to be seen as the people who overstayed a visa or anything like that. It’s not us, we want to follow the request. if the request is to leave by June 18, so be it. We’ll do that. Don’t tell us on 17th June that the answer is a no, that you’re not going to intervene,” she said.
With additional reporting by David Hennessy