The federal government has cancelled the visa of British far-right commentator Katie Hopkins after she boasted 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.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews told the ABC on Monday Ms Hopkins’ visa has been cancelled, and that she hopes she will leave the country “imminently”.
“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 comes 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.
But the federal government is ultimately responsible for issuing visas.
When asked how Ms Hopkins was deemed a person of good character, Ms Andrews said Ms Hopkins is “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.”
On Sunday, Mr Hunt described her alleged behaviour as “dangerous, irresponsible and apparently deliberate”.
“Right now, in my view, if the facts are born out, of deliberately exposing someone to potential contact with a person who has not completed quarantine, then the strongest action should be taken,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said he had no issue deporting someone who was found to have broken infection control rules.
“If you want to do flout our laws, then you pack your bongo and get out of the country.”
Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi described Ms Hopkins’ arrival as 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,” she said.
“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. This is just rage-inducing stuff from start to finish,” she said.
Amid growing backlash, 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.