A family who were set to be deported to the UK after living in Australia for almost a decade have won a last minute reprieve to stay in the country – but for only a few weeks.
They had been due to fly back to Britain at 10pm Wednesday, but they never got on board the plane.
The Greens moved to Australia in 2012 after 44-year-old electrical expert Mark Green was headhunted by a solar installation company.
Along with wife Kelly, 45, and daughter Rebecca, who was just nine when they arrived, the family made a new life in Adelaide.
The electrician has said he has made concerted efforts to get permanent residency and extend his existing visa but has been thwarted repeatedly when companies he worked for either went bust or lied about the progress they had made on his immigration paperwork.
Mr Green is currently on a bridging visa which was set to expire. It looked like they had exhausted all options and would be forced to leave their home and head to Scotland on Wednesday.
But an intervention by South Australian premier Peter Malinauskas looks to have given the Greens a stay of immigration execution.
The Premier called immigration minister Andrew Giles who said on Wednesday night that he would grant the family a visa extension – but only for one month, reported The Australian.
Mr Giles said that was so the family could consult lawyers and see if there was a case for them to remain in Australia and under what circumstances.
The Greens are set to argue that their situation has enough similarities to that of the Murugappans, the Sri Lankan family that had been held on Christmas Island before being allowed to return to Biloela to live permanently, that they should be allowed to stay.
“If not, the minister needs to explain how he can approve permanent residency to the Sri Lankan couple – who entered the country illegally – and their two young children, but deny the same approval to a family who entered the country legally and have been paying their own way, including taxes, for the past decade,” said Frank Pangallo, an SA Best Member of the Legislative Council, who has been helping the Greens.
“The Greens are of excellent character and fill all the requirements of people seeking permanent residency in this country.
“They have never been a burden on taxpayers.”
Mr Pangello said he suspected the immigration minister had not seen the details of the case and now needed to fully examine it before the next deadline for deportation arises in a month’s time.
Mr Green has said the family wants “desperately to stay in Australia,” where they had made a home for the last decade and “where we have established a future for ourselves”.
He added that the family had no home in Scotland and his qualifications in the UK had lapsed due to the length of time he had been in Australia. They would also have to leave their beloved family dog behind due to the high cost of transporting it to Europe.
Mr Green has said he had been let down seven times by companies that started the process of allowing him to remain in Australia and then dropped the ball.
“Most of them (solar companies) closed because of warranty issues – they don’t want to guarantee the warranty of the product,” Mr Green told A Current Affair.
“It ends up costing them money, so what they do is they shut up shop and they open up under another business name.”
Each time Mr Green was forced to start his three-year visa term – costing thousands of dollars – from scratch despite the businesses failing through no fault of his own.
“The government has a responsibility to protect me as a foreign worker who was invited to come to Australia to work and was let down by an Australian company,” he said.
2GB radio host Ben Fordham has also compared the case to that of the Sri Lankan Murugappan family.
“Don’t ignore the double standard here – the minister is happy to show compassion when there’s enough publicity for him to look like a hero.
“He’ll step in to help one family but allow another to be kicked out of Australia. It exposes the hypocrisy of the federal government and politics of large.”