When the asylum-seeker Murugappan family, sometimes called the Tamil family, who had been unjustly held in detention for years under the Morrison government, were finally released and returned to their home in the small central Queensland town of Biloela, the media response was staggering and predictable. The arrival coincided with the introduction of the Albanese Labor government, proponents of the family’s return, so the media gathered to see a rare event: a politician making good on an election promise. The town, a typically quiet berg with a population of just 5,000, was suddenly flooded with hundreds of journalists and camera crews, all eager to cover the riveting story of a family’s resilience against an unjust government. It’s a vindication story; both feel-good and morally just.
Lisa Wilkinson, currently under the pump with the whole tawdry Bruce Lehmann saga, sloped up, along with her team from The Project, and got pole position over a horde of national and international media representatives at the quaint Thangool airport. They all hoped to secure an exclusive interview with the family, who for their part, appeared to be quite taken aback by the whole media frenzy.
Although the core story revolved around the Tamil family, this event provided a unique platform to showcase Biloela’s tight-knit mining and farming community. The town’s mayor, Nev Ferrier, became an unofficial spokesperson for Biloela. Media outlets clamored for his insights, giving him the chance to extol the virtues of the town and its hardworking inhabitants.
Throughout that weekend, Nev participated in over 20 interviews. Our team proactively pitched various story angles to news organisations, highlighting topics from the town’s affordable housing to its robust job market. As a result, a myriad of stories permeated media channels, heightening awareness and appreciation for both the town and the greater Shire.