Home affairs minister Peter Dutton has hit back at the Qld government for saying he was “lying” about how Hollywood star Tom Hanks entered Australia to film a movie.
The row started because the famous actor was granted an exemption from Queensland’s strict border rules and entered the state from America on Tuesday night.
Hanks was granted permission to self isolate in a resort on the Gold Coast, instead of undergoing the state’s Brisbane-based hotel quarantine system.
Speaking on ABC’s Insiders on Sunday morning, Mr Dutton, who has been critical of the Qld government’s treatment of Hanks, reiterated his position the Hollywood star should not have been treated differently to any other traveller trying to enter Australia.
“Mr Hanks and his party have not gone into hotel quarantine as other Australians would have to,” he said.
“The Queensland Government made separate arrangements for that.
“Mr Hanks should be treated no differently than somebody else coming back, and that’s the basis on which we argue here.”
Mr Dutton also hit back at Qld Deputy Premier Steven Miles’ comments on Saturday that it was he, as the federal minister responsible for borders, who had actually allowed Hanks’ entry into Australia.
“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,” Mr Miles said.
When asked about this on Sunday, Mr Dutton said that Border Force had only granted Hanks entry because the Qld government and Qld Health had porvided a letter of support.
(It was approved) based on the letter of support from Queensland Health and based on the fact that the Qld Government had, as I understand it, provided financial incentive for the movie to be shot in Queensland,” he said.
“So Border Force will only approve Mr Hanks if he’s coming in under that arrangement.
“If he was coming here as a tourist, he wouldn’t be approved by Border Force.”
Speaking on Insiders, Mr Dutton pointed the finger at state governments which have not budged on relaxing border restrictions to parts of the country where there are zero to nearly no cases of COVID-19.
He said the restrictions in Qld were not based on health advice, but are still being implemented for political gains by the Palaszczuk government, which is seeking re-election in October.
Communities in northern New South Wales which have stronger ties to southeast Queensland have been barred from entering the state, despite there being no active cases of coronavirus in the region.
“Somebody coming from the ACT where there have been no cases, having to go into a hotel in Brisbane for two weeks before they can see a loved one, who has a life expectancy of only one week, is an outrage and there’s no comparison to make there,” Mr Dutton said.
Mr Dutton also noted the cap on returning travellers could be increased if the hotel quarantine limits were increased.
Insiders host David Speers questioned Mr Dutton as to why former Prime Minister Tony Abbot was granted permission to go to Europe, while international travel has been banned for Australian citizens.
Mr Dutton said the Border Force commissioner approves individual cases for travel relating to business and compassionate reasons.