South Australian Liberal Senator Alex Antic has hit out at the state’s “bureaucratic overlords” after being sent into hotel quarantine on his return to Adelaide.
The vaccine mandate critic left Canberra on Thursday when federal parliament finished sitting for the year.
Under border changes that took effect on November 23, all unvaccinated travellers to SA must quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
Senator Antic, who has declined to reveal his vaccination status, appears to have been caught by the rule.
Asked on Friday why he was taken to a hotel to quarantine for two weeks, he told ABC radio that was “a very good question”.
“That’s a question you might like to direct to the bureaucratic overlords at SA Health,” he added.
“I’m surrounded by COVID in a medi-hotel and that’s alarming.”
Senator Antic was in the spotlight during the last parliamentary sitting when he joined a handful of upper house MPs threatening to withhold their votes on government legislation in protest at state vaccine mandates.
He later relented, but not before rising in the Senate to say Australia had been “transformed into a two-tiered society on the grounds of medical discrimination”.
Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told ABC Radio Adelaide that Senator Antic was fully vaccinated. He repeated that on Friday.
“That was certainly my understanding that he had been double vaccinated, and I had discussed vaccinations and made it very clear that that’s what I understood,” he said.
“I was surprised to learn that, it’s as simple as that. I was advised he was double vaccinated.
“I could only work on that assumption, and that assumption proved to be incorrect.”
On Thursday, Senator Antic would not confirm his vaccination status. He also maintained he had “never said anything that I believe would mislead the Prime Minister on any issue”.
Senator Antic – who said he had a negative COVID test on Wednesday – said he felt he had been singled out.
“I seem to have been singled out in what appears to be a political stunt and the only inference you can really draw from this is this has been quite pre-meditated,” he told the ABC.
SA is on high alert after discovering 18 local cases of COVID on Thursday.
Sixteen were linked to one event at suburban Norwood last weekend. The other two involve travellers from interstate.
All of the infected people who attended the Norwood event, a school reunion, were fully vaccinated. Former SA premier Jay Weatherill was among them and has tested positive.
The cluster has forced 210 close contacts to quarantine for seven days but officials expect that number to increase.
Among the close contacts forced into isolation are SA Governor Frances Adamson, Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas and his deputy Susan Close.
They have all tested negative, but are continuing their quarantine under the rules.
A pub, restaurant and medical centre are among exposure sites listed in Adelaide’s west overnight following the outbreak.
Premier Steven Marshall said the spike was not unexpected after the state dropped most of its border restrictions last month.
“I’m sure there are people anxious about opening up the borders. But I’m quite sure we are COVID ready,” he said on Thursday.
“We’re on track at the moment. The cases were inevitable and now we’re responding.”
As part of that response and amid concerns over the Omicron variant of the virus, SA has tightened its border rules with NSW, requiring all arrivals to have a virus test.
SA Health has also taken steps to be able to quickly identify the new variant should it arrive.
But officials remain concerned that some other jurisdictions require international arrivals to quarantine for only 72 hours, or allow them to immediately travel to other places in Australia.
Under current rules, all international arrivals in SA must quarantine for 14 days.