Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles has accused Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton of “lying” about how Hollywood star Tom Hanks entered Australia to film a movie.
The row started because the actor was granted an exemption from Queensland’s strict border rules and entered the state from America on Tuesday night.
Hanks had already contracted COVID-19 in Queensland when he was filming a movie there in March.
The American star along with 11 family, staff, cast and crew were allowed entry into Queensland last week so filming of an Elvis Presley biopic, directed by Baz Luhrmann, could continue.
That didn’t sit well with Mr Dutton, who attacked the Queensland government on Friday.
“If you are Tom Hanks from California, you are OK,” he said.
“If you are Tom Hanks from Chermside or Castle Hill, sorry, you are not coming in, even to your brother’s funeral or your dying daughter.
“It is just unacceptable.”
But Mr Miles hit back on Saturday, saying it was Peter Dutton – the federal minister responsible for borders – who had allowed Hanks’ entry.
“Non-residents coming to Australia need to be permitted to come here by Border Force,” he said.
“And what that means is that when Peter Dutton launched that extraordinary attack during the week, he was lying.
“He was saying that it was us that let Tom Hanks in, when in fact it was him and his own department that let Tom Hanks in.
“I think Peter Dutton owes our Premier and our chief health officer an apology.”
Tom Hanks and the overseas’ cast and crew members are now in hotel quarantine on the Gold Coast at their own expense.
Hanks plays Elvis’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, in the big-budget movie scheduled for release in 2021.
Queensland has copped criticism from the Prime Minister and other government figures for keeping its borders closed with strict rules – but letting in Tom Hanks and the Elvis movie crew, and 400 AFL staff, executives and families.
Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young raised eyebrows on Thursday when she said the ritzy Hollywood set and AFL players didn’t have to follow the same rules as everybody else because “we need every single dollar in our state”.
“I have given exemptions from people in entertainment and film because that is bringing a lot of money into this state,” she said.
After that comment, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Sky News on Friday he could understand why regular people were frustrated the rules didn’t apply to celebrities.
He made the comments after the heartbreaking case of Sarah Caisip, who wasn’t able to attend her father’s funeral because she was still in hotel quarantine in Queensland.
Ms Caisip was eventually allowed to see her father in his coffin but under police guard and without any family present.
“Well I think that’s why people have been so frustrated today, when they see double standards,” Mr Morrison said.
“Queenslanders are fair-minded people. I know, I’m sure the vast majority of Queenslanders would support the border being in place. That’s why it’s not about that … Queenslanders are very fair-minded people too, and I think this is what would offended them, the double standards that are there.”
Mr Miles defended the chief health officer’s comments on Saturday.
“I think the comment she was making was that where there are industries that make an important economic contribution, that keep people in jobs, it’s important to work with them to ensure they can continue to operate as much as possible in a COVID-safe way,” he said.
“Just as she has for resources, for agriculture, for freight, for a whole wide range of industries.”
The Department of Home Affairs has been contacted for comment.