British far-right provocateur Katie Hopkins has been branded “despicable” by federal ministers after she claimed to be trying to breach hotel quarantine rules in Sydney, with the Australian Border Force asked to “urgently review” her visa.
It comes after Ms Hopkins posted then later deleted an Instagram video where she claimed to be intentionally opening doors in hotel quarantine while naked and not wearing a mask, in an attempt to “frighten the s**t out of” workers delivering her meals.
She also claimed COVID lockdowns were the “greatest hoax in human history”, and was heavily critical of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Victoria’s Daniel Andrews.
It has been reported she may have been flown in to film the ‘Big Brother’ reality TV show for Channel Seven. The television network wouldn’t confirm whether she had ever been part of the show, but released a statement on Sunday afternoon to distance itself from Ms Hopkins.
“Seven Network and Endemol Shine Australia confirm that Katie Hopkins is not part of Big Brother VIP,” a Seven spokesperson said.
“Seven and Endemol Shine strongly condemn her irresponsible and reckless comments in hotel quarantine.”
Reaction to Ms Hopkins’ video was swift and furious, with the federal Labor opposition saying she should never have been allowed in the country in the first place.
“This is grossly disrespectful to frontline workers who are only trying to keep us safe,” Labor’s acting home affairs spokesperson, Andrew Giles, said on Saturday.
Greens spokesperson for anti-racism, Mehreen Faruqi, called it “rage-inducing” and “a new low”, contrasting how Ms Hopkins had been allowed into the country while thousands of Australians overseas were still struggling to get home.
Labor MP Josh Burns called on the federal government to “cancel her visa and send her on the next plane out of Australia”.
Health minister Greg Hunt called her actions “dangerous and irresponsible”.
In a statement to The New Daily on Sunday morning, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said she had ordered Border Force to investigate.
“It is despicable that anyone would behave in such a way that puts our health officials and community at risk,” Ms Andrews said of Ms Hopkins’ actions.
“I have directed Australian Border Force to immediately consider the facts of this matter and urgently review whether this individual is complying with the requirements of her visa.”
Immigration minister Alex Hawke tweeted that “temporary visa holders must obey public health orders.”
“Where visa conditions are breached, individuals may face visa cancellation in accordance with the law,” he said.
Speaking on the ABC’s Insiders program, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was also critical.
“I have no problem sending home someone who wants to flout our laws. If you want to do that, pack your bongo and get out of country,” he said.
Mr Joyce added, “I’m the one who wanted to send home Johnny Depp’s dogs”, referring to an infamous 2015 incident where he engaged in a long-running stand-off with the Hollywood actor, who brought his pets into Australia in breach of quarantine laws while filming a Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
TND contacted Ms Hopkins for comment. Channel Seven would not comment on the record about ‘Big Brother’ contestants.
In her Instagram videos, filmed inside a Sydney quarantine hotel, Ms Hopkins referred to her stay as “Oz-Catraz”, seemingly a reference to the prison Alcatraz.
Ms Hopkins, a former newspaper columnist and TV host, has regularly courted controversy after numerous incendiary comments with far-right views on race and immigration.
In 2017, she called for a “final solution” after the Manchester Arena bombing attack. She has also compared migrants to “cockroaches”, called for gunships to be used to block migrant boats, and was detained in South Africa for “spreading racial hatred”.
In June 2020, she was permanently suspended from Twitter for “violations of our hateful conduct policy”.
There are currently several online petitions calling for Australians to boycott the television network that is broadcasting the reality TV show in which Ms Hopkins is said to be appearing.
Mr Giles was angry that Ms Hopkins had been given a spot in hotel quarantine in Australia while many Australians were blocked from entering or leaving the country due to border closures.
“The decision by Mr Morrison’s Government to allow Ms Hopkins into the country is particularly painful for the 35,000 Australians who remain stranded overseas, including Australian children trapped in India without their parents,” he said.
“Ms Hopkins should have never been allowed into the country, and now that Ms Hopkins is openly breaching quarantine restrictions Mr Morrison must take responsibility for his failure.”
Federal government sources said it was the NSW government that would have granted the entry exemption, not the Commonwealth.
Senator Faruqi echoed these comments.
‘A new low’
“This is a new low. Thousands of families remain separated from their loved ones overseas. But Katie Hopkins is deemed important enough to get through the system,” Senator Faruqi said.
“I haven’t seen my mother or my daughter since 2019. It says a lot about our priorities that Katie Hopkins can be permitted to come here and spew her vitriol during a pandemic. It’s as breathtaking as it is soul-crushing.”
“What’s worse, Hopkins is making a mockery of our hotel quarantine system by openly flouting the rules and bragging about it on social media,” she added.
“This is just rage-inducing stuff from start to finish.”