An appeal by an Irish couple facing deportation from Australia because their young son has cystic fibrosis has been rejected.

Anthony and Christine Hyde's application for permanent residency was refused because the Australian government deemed three-year-old Darragh's medical condition to be a burden on taxpayers.

The couple appealed their case to the Administrative Review Tribunal who formally rejected their plea at a hearing in Melbourne.

But the tribunal has recommended their case be referred to the Department of Immigration who will decide if Minister David Coleman should intervene in their case.

Speaking after the hearing, Ms Hyde said it was a positive result for the family who wanted to get their case in front of the minister.

She said: "Today the visa was refused as expected, but our case has been referred to the minister, which was the result we were looking for.

"We still have a big battle on our hands but we feel we are on the right track.

"I'm confident that our case will be successful if we can get the minister's attention."

With today's ruling, the couple have 28 days to leave the country, but they are applying for bridging visas so they can remain and fight their case.

The family's plight has made headlines across Australia and was the subject of a special report on Channel 10's The Project on Sunday.

More than 65,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Hydes to be allowed to remain in Australia.

Christine works as an assistant principal at a local primary school and Anthony is a part-time bus driver.

The couple 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 Darragh would be a burden on the state.

The family argued that Darragh's condition is mild and have medical reports to back that up. They also argued that Darragh is Australian born and therefore should not be deported.

"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," Ms Hyde said.

Initially, their application was rejected on the basis that Darragh would require a lung transplant, but this was struck out after his doctors argued this was extremely unlikely given how mild his condition is.

However, the state then deemed the cost of the CF drug Kalydeco, which Darragh takes and would cost AUD$300,000 (€188,000) a year without state subsidy, is a "burden" on taxpayers.

Darragh is taking part in trials for cystic fibrosis and Ms Hyde hopes this "significant contribution back to society" may help to swing their case.

With Australian elections taking place on 18 May, there could be a change in government with a new minister deciding the Hydes' fate.

Ms Hyde said: "It might work in our favour. We've got lots of support from the Labour candidate in our area."