The Australian government has cancelled Katie Hopkins’ visa after the far-right commentator boasted about breaching hotel quarantine conditions.
The cancellation was announced by the home affairs minister, Karen Andrews, on Monday – and follows a decision by Endemol Shine Australia to cancel her contract to appear on Seven Network’s Big Brother VIP. Hopkins will now be required to leave the country.
Hopkins, 46, broadcast a live video from what she claimed was a Sydney hotel room on Saturday morning, describing Covid-19 lockdowns as “the greatest hoax in human history” while joking about elaborate plans to breach quarantine rules. In the Instagram video, which is no longer available to view, she said she was trying to “frighten” security guards by answering her hotel door naked and maskless.
On Monday Andrews said Hopkins’ behaviour was “shameful”, describing it as “a slap in the face for all those Australians who are currently in lockdown”.
“The fact that she was out there boasting about breaching quarantine was appalling,” she told ABC News Breakfast.
Andrews confirmed that Australian Border Force had now cancelled her visa, saying it had “acted quickly” to do so.
“We will be getting her out of the country as soon as we can possibly arrange that. So I’m hopeful that it will happen imminently.”
Andrews sought to shift the blame for Hopkins’ entry to Australia, explaining that although issuing visas is a federal responsibility “she actually came into the country with support of a state government”.
The minister said state governments ask the federal government “reasonably regularly” to admit people above the hotel quarantine caps because “there is an economic benefit” to them coming to Australia.
“So she came in here on the basis of potential benefit to the economy.”
Labor’s acting home affairs spokesperson, Andrew Giles, rejected that defence – arguing that the federal government had enabled Hopkins’ travel.
Australia’s immigration laws contain broad discretionary powers to refuse entry to people the government considers of bad character. These have been used to block the entry of the conspiracy theorist David Icke 和 US whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
During the pandemic, Australia has imposed strict limits on the number of people allowed in hotel quarantine. Since July just 3,070 arrivals are allowed each week, despite there being more than 30,000 Australians stranded overseas and seeking to return home.
Asked if the federal government had given Hopkins a visa because she was considered of good character, Andrews replied that she was “clearly not someone that we want to keep in this country for a second longer than we have to”.
Last year Hopkins had her Twitter account 和 1.1 million followers permanently suspended for violating the platform’s “hateful conduct” policy.
Hopkins, who was repeatedly retweeted by the former US president Donald Trump, was removed to “keep Twitter safe”, according to the social media platform.
She has previously compared migrants to cockroaches and claimed the photograph of a dead Syrian boy lying on a beach that sparked a wave of compassion across Europe was staged, as well as stating that people with dementia should not “block” hospital beds.
On Saturday Giles and the Labor MP Josh Burns blasted the Morrison government for allowing Hopkins to enter Australia.
“This should never have happened, and now her behaviour is putting people at risk,” Giles said.
Burns said Hopkins had “called Islam disgusting, migrants ‘cockroaches’ and called for a ‘final solution’”. “How does she get a visa, let alone a spot in quarantine over Australians?”
The Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi described Hopkins’ admission to Australia as a new low while thousands of families remain separated from their loved ones overseas.
The production company making Big Brother VIP, Endemol Shine Australia, 和 Channel Seven scrambled on Sunday to respond to the growing crisis, which threatened to overshadow the broadcast of the Tokyo Olympic Games which starts on Seven on Friday.
“Seven Network and Endemol Shine Australia confirm that Katie Hopkins is not part of Big Brother VIP,” the network said. “Seven and Endemol Shine strongly condemn her irresponsible and reckless comments in hotel quarantine.”