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Amy Nethery

The historian Jordana Silverstein’s masterful new book, Cruel Care, begins with an account of the Murugappan family. Many Australians will remember this family: the hard-working parents seeking asylum from Sri Lanka, and their two Australian-born children, taken from their home in Biloela by the Australian government at five o’clock one morning in 2018. The family was detained for four years in Melbourne and Perth and on Christmas Island. The case was so drawn out that, in the rare photographs released to the public, we saw the children growing up. Their treatment was illogical, unjust, unkind, and expensive, and provoked a sharp emotional response from the public.

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