Qantas upholds role in forced deportations of refugees

The role Qantas plays in the forced deportations of refugees and asylum seekers was scrutinised at its Annual General Meeting.

Qantas shareholders have voted "emphatically" against a move to review the airline's policy of facilitating forced deportations of refugees and asylum seekers.

A resolution to amend the company's constitution to insert a 'Human Rights Due Diligence Clause' was put to a vote at the Qantas annual general meeting on Friday.

If passed, it would have paved the way for a comprehensive review of the airline's policy on involuntary transportation.

But the move was defeated, with at least 75 per cent of shareholders voting against the resolution for the constitutional change brought forward by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR).

The motion was defeated as Qantas faced increasing pressure to refuse to transport a Tamil family, facing deportation against their will.

Priya, Nadesalingam and their two Queensland-born daughters, Kopika and Tharunicaa, have been held in a Melbourne detention centre since March, when emergency legal action saw them removed from a deportation flight at Perth Airport.

Nadesalingam and Priya, both Tamils, came to Australia separately by boat in 2012 and 2013 following Sri Lanka’s civil war and settled in the Queensland town of Biloela, where they had been raising their daughters. 

An online petition calling on Qantas and 11 other airlines to refuse to fly the family against their will has attracted more than 15,000 signatures.

Queensland resident and supporter of Priya and Nades, Angela Fredericks attended the Qantas AGM and said the family's treatment highlighted the role of commercial and charter airlines in the forced transportation of asylum seekers and refugees.

"Our concern is that numerous authorities are saying that our government is breaking several refugee conventions, and essentially these airlines are sending people back to danger and persecution," Ms Fredericks said.

Friends of supporters of a Tamil family facing deportation held a protest outside the office of the Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton.
Source: AAP

Published 26 October 2018 at 12:18pm, updated 26 October 2018 at 9:15pm
By Sarah Wiedersehn