When it comes to how our national leaders have navigated the pandemic, there will always be fingers to point.
Some of this criticism is justified. Our national vaccine rollout for instance, has been an absolute shambles. The reason? Our Health Minister and Prime Minister A) didn’t order enough doses, B) kept backflipping on public messaging, and C) didn’t do enough to change the country’s predicament when they could have lobbied pharma giant, Pfizer, harder.
Other criticism, in my mind, is less reasonable. Where there are numerous variables in an unprecedented situation, it’s understandable that state and federal leaders don’t always make the right call. I’m sure I’ll face some fierce opposition for this position, but I genuinely felt for NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian as Sydney’s most recent outbreak started to escalate. Her strong leadership till that point, irreversibly tarnished for the fact that she hadn’t locked down quick enough. It was undoubtedly the wrong call, but I can see how it happened.
Letting Katie Hopkins into the country on the other hand? That’s a decision none of us can reconcile nor forgive.
At a time when thousands of Australians are still languishing overseas, unable to get home because of flight restrictions and exorbitant costs, it’s unfathomable that we would give up one of those precious spots to an alt-right, bigoted provocateur, well known to the government for her hateful bile.
Ministers might be playing the outrage game this morning at news that Hopkins deliberately attempted to breach public health directives, but it’s all a big (and patronising) crock of crap.
Hopkins, and other Big Brother contestants had been granted visas based on support from the NSW government, which had approved the contestants above the quarantine cap. They knew when they signed that paperwork, that she was exactly the type of noxious human to label lockdown “the greatest hoax in human history.”
In a now deleted video to social media, Hopkins claimed that she was “lying in wait” at her hotel for a delivery worker to bring her food so she could “spring it [the door] open and frighten the shit out of them and do it naked with no face mask”.
When Home Affairs Minister, Karen Andrews spoke about the incident to media this morning, she said Hopkins had been granted entry to Australia as a potential benefit to the economy. A potential benefit to the economy was worth risking Australian lives and having even more harmful misinformation spread.
In 2017, Hopkins was fired as a host on English radio station LBC after calling for a “final solution” following the Manchester Arena terrorist attacks. She has permanently banned from Twitter for repeatedly breaching the platform’s “hateful conduct” policy. She is proud to be labelled a “racist”, a “bigot” and a “troll” for her toxic views on a range of topics, from immigration to obesity.
While Minister Andrews promised that Hopkins will be leaving “as soon as we can possibly arrange that” following her egregious breaches in quarantine, these words serve as no real comfort; especially given Hopkins imminent deportation only truly came about after Channel 7 made the call to dump her from the show rather than the government stepping in.
At a time of great uncertainty, ongoing lockdowns and heightened public risk, Australia needs a government which is willing to make decisions on more than “potential economic benefit”– particularly when that “economic benefit” is born from harmful, toxic ideology.
We need a government that seeks to bring Australians home who have been waiting desperately for months. We need a government that looks to endorse messages of inclusion and unity, not division and hate. We need a government that stands up for people who deserve it.
Katie Hopkins might be heading home, but her time in Australia proves that our current leaders don’t understand that.