Government criticised for letting Rita Ora into Australia ahead of 40,000 stranded overseas

The pop star, who made headlines for a party violating London’s lockdown, is in Sydney hotel quarantine for appearance on TV’s The Voice

Labor has blasted the decision to allow British pop star Rita Ora – who has made headlines for hosting a lockdown-violating party in London – to enter Australia and quarantine ahead of the almost 40,000 Australians stranded overseas.

Ora arrived at a Sydney hotel for two weeks of forced quarantine on Monday ahead of filming for her role as a coach on Channel Seven’s The Voice. The opposition home affairs spokeswoman, Kristina Keneally, said Ora’s hotel spot meant her quarantine was at the expense of Australians desperately seeking to return home.

“It’s another example of Scott Morrison leaving Australians behind,” Keneally told the Guardian.

“There are still 40,000 Australians stranded overseas. Every celebrity who takes up a place in quarantine is a place denied to a stranded Australian,” she said.

Reports of celebrities, including Matt Damon and Miranda Kerr, being granted permission to isolate in self-organised private residences to avoid Australia’s strict hotel quarantine regime have generated backlash within Australia.

However, Ora, who reportedly travelled with an entourage, did not organise to isolate in a private residence, meaning her quarantine will count towards Australia’s strict cap on international arrivals.

Last week, London’s Metropolitan police said representatives of Ora offered a London restaurant £5,000 to host a lockdown-breaking party for the singer’s 30th birthday.

Ora has apologised for holding the celebration, which was attended by 17 people on 28 November last year. She apologised a second time when it emerged that she should have been self-isolating when she celebrated her birthday, after a trip to Egypt.

When news of the party was revealed, Ora admitted a “serious and inexcusable error of judgment” based on a “spur-of-the-moment decision”.

An Australian Border Force spokeswoman told the Guardian the body does not comment on individual border exemptions.

Arrivals into Australia are capped at about 4,250 a week, after limits for New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia were temporarily halved as part of measures responding to more infectious strains of Covid. The limits are expected to be reviewed on 15 February.

There are about 39,000 Australians registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as wanting to return from overseas but being unable to do so.

Australians stranded in Europe were dealt a blow on Friday when the Australian government acknowledged it had inadvertently revealed sensitive details of all passengers booked on a repatriation. It was the fourth time since August that Dfat had breached the data of Australians stranded overseas.

The Guardian has contacted Channel Seven for clarification.

Contributor

Elias Visontay

The GuardianTramp

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