British far-right commentator Katie Hopkins has been deported after boasting about flouting hotel quarantine rules on social media.
Ms Hopkins was allowed into Australia ahead of a now-axed role in the upcoming season of Big Brother, broadcast by the Seven Network.
But she was dropped from the show after telling her Instagram followers on Saturday she had been trying to flout infection controls from what she claimed was a Sydney hotel room.
NSW police said in a statement on Monday afternoon Ms Hopkins had been fined $1,000 for allegedly failing to wear a mask, and assisted authorities in taking her back to the airport.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews told the ABC on Monday morning Ms Hopkins’ visa had been cancelled.
“The Australian Border Force acted very quickly to make sure the visa on which she entered was cancelled,” Ms Andrews said.
“There was a bit of a process we needed to follow with that. We will be getting her out of the country as soon as we can possibly arrange that. I’m hopeful that will happen imminently.”
Ms Andrews described her behaviour as “appalling” and “shameful”.
“The fact that she was out there boasting about breaching quarantine was just appalling. It was a slap in the face for all those Australians who are currently in lockdown,” she said.
“It was just unacceptable behaviour, so personally, I’m very pleased she’ll be leaving.”
Ms Hopkins’ arrival in the country came as thousands of Australians remain stranded overseas, following a tightening of the international arrivals cap.
Ms Andrews said she was allowed in with support of a state government, and on the basis of potential benefit to the economy.
“This does happen from time to time – it actually happens reasonably regularly – that state governments approach the federal government on the basis there is an economic benefit to some people coming in over the quarantine caps, and the quarantine caps then are a matter for the states to handle,” she said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday told reporters Ms Hopkins’ border exemption came at the request of the Seven Network and did not count towards the existing cap on arrivals.
The federal government is ultimately responsible for issuing visas.
Asked how Ms Hopkins was deemed a person of good character, Ms Andrews said on Monday Ms Hopkins was “clearly not someone we want to keep in this country”.
“For all those Australians out there who are watching this, I’m with you. It’s appalling that this individual behaved the way that she did, and she will be leaving without a doubt,” she said.
“I will continue to work with state and territory governments. We do need people to be able to come into this country where there is an economic benefit for them to do so.”
Speaking later on Monday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said film and television production companies “who are guaranteeing a massive boost to our economy” can submit visa applications.
He said as long as arriving passengers entered the country safely, covered their own quarantine costs and did not take the place of returning Australians, their requests were usually granted.
But he distanced himself from the decision regarding Ms Hopkins, saying he had never heard of her and that a “state operations centre” assesses applications.
“They make recommendations to the government … sometimes it comes to me and sometimes it doesn’t,” Mr Hazzard told reporters in Sydney.
He described Ms Hopkins’ behaviour as “completely abhorrent”.
“To think she could think the measures we are taking to keep our community safe can be treated with such juvenile, imbecilic behaviour is mind-boggling,” he said.
On Sunday, Mr Hunt described her alleged behaviour as “dangerous, irresponsible and apparently deliberate”.
The Seven Network issued a statement on Sunday afternoon confirming Ms Hopkins was no longer attached to the show.
“Seven and Endemol Shine strongly condemn her irresponsible and reckless comments in hotel quarantine,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.
Ms Hopkins, formerly a prominent columnist for The Sun and Daily Mail newspapers, was sacked from her radio show in 2017 after using the term “final solution” in response to the Manchester Arena Bombing.
She has also compared migrants to cockroaches and claimed people with dementia should not “block hospital beds”.
Her Twitter account – with 1.1 million followers – was permanently banned in June 2020 for repeatedly violating their terms of service.