British far-right commentator Katie Hopkins deported after visa revocation
The federal government has revoked the visa of British far-right commentator Katie Hopkins after she boasted about her breaching hotel quarantine rules on social media.
Ms Hopkins was allowed into Australia ahead of her now-disqualified role on the upcoming season of Big Brother, which is broadcast by Seven Network.
But It was dropped from the show After she told her Instagram followers on Saturday she was trying to mock infection control from what she claimed was a hotel room in Sydney.
Home Affairs Secretary Karen Andrews told ABC on Monday that Ms Hopkins’ visa had been revoked, and she hoped she would leave the country “imminently”.
“The Australian Border Force acted very quickly to ensure that the visa I entered through was cancelled,” Andrews said.
“There was a bit of a process that we needed to go through. We’ll get her out of the country as quickly as we can get that sorted. I hope that happens soon.”
Andrews described her behavior as “appalling” and “shameful”.
“The fact that she was there bragging about breaking the quarantine was shocking,” she said. “It was a slap in the face for all the Australians who are currently in quarantine.”
“It was just unacceptable behaviour, so personally I’m very glad she’s leaving.”
Ms Hopkins’ arrival in the country comes as thousands of Australians remain stranded abroad, after the cap on international arrivals tightened.
Andrews said she was allowed in with support from the state government, and on the basis of potential benefits to the economy.
“It happens from time to time — it actually happens reasonably — that state governments approach the federal government on the grounds that there is an economic benefit to some people who come across the quarantine border, so the quarantine cap is a matter for states to deal with,” she said.
On Sunday, Health Secretary Greg Hunt told reporters that Hopkins’ exemption from the border came at the request of the Seven Network and was not counted in the current maximum number of arrivals.
But the federal government is ultimately responsible for issuing visas.
When asked how Hopkins was a good person, Andrews said Ms. Hopkins was “obviously not someone we want to stay in this country”.
“For all the Australians watching this, I’m with you,” she said. “It is appalling that this woman is behaving the way I did, and she will leave without a doubt.”
“I will continue to work with state and territory governments. We need people to be able to come to this country where there is an economic benefit to them to do so.”
Speaking later on Monday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said film and television production companies “which guarantee a massive boost to our economy” can apply for visas.
He said that as long as incoming passengers safely entered the country, covered their quarantine costs and did not replace returning Australians, their applications would usually be accepted.
But he distanced himself from the decision on Ms. Hopkins, saying he had never heard of her and that the State Operations Center was evaluating requests.
“They make recommendations to the government,” Hazard told reporters in Sydney. “Sometimes he comes to me and sometimes he doesn’t.
He described Hopkins’ behavior as “utterly distasteful”.
“I think she could think that the actions we are taking to keep our community safe can be dealt with with such incidents, stupid behavior is mind boggling,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“To think that she believes it is acceptable to put our employees at risk, and to put our broader community at risk, is absolutely repugnant.”
And on Sunday, Hunt described her alleged behavior as “dangerous, irresponsible and apparently premeditated.”
“Currently, in my opinion, if the facts emerge about intentionally exposing someone to potential contact with someone who has not completed quarantine, the strongest action must be taken,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said he had no problem deporting someone found to have broken infection control rules.
“If you want to break our laws, you pack the bongos and get out of the country.”
Green Party Senator Mehreen Farooqi called Ms Hopkins’ arrival “a new low”.
“Thousands of families are still separated from their loved ones abroad,” she said. “But Katie Hopkins is important enough to bypass the system.”
“What’s worse, Hopkins is making fun of our hotel quarantine system by publicly violating the rules and bragging about it on social media. These are just things that get pissed off from start to finish,” she said.
Amid the mounting backlash, Seven Network released a statement on Sunday afternoon confirming that Ms Hopkins is no longer associated with the show.
“Seven and Endemol Shine strongly condemn their irresponsible and reckless comments in the hotel quarantine,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.
Ms Hopkins, formerly a prominent columnist for The Sun and Daily Mail, was fired from her radio show in 2017 after using the term “Final Solution” in response to the Manchester Arena bombing.
She also compared migrants to cockroaches and claimed that people with dementia should not “clog hospital beds”.
Her Twitter account – which has 1.1 million followers – was permanently banned in June 2020 for repeatedly violating the terms of service.