It’s No Surprise That Fortress Australia Let In Katie Hopkins

The broken, racist ideology of Fortress Australia makes family reunification all but impossible while leaving the door wide open to an anti-immigrant troll.

Katie Hopkins

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

For months, I have been burying my anger about the farcical border closures in Australia for everyone but the rich, famous and well-connected. It’s been too painful to ruminate on. But this restraint snapped with the news that British far-right commentator Katie Hopkins had flown in when so many of us have been locked in and out of Australia and separated from our families for years now. It is extremely upsetting. Honestly, I am crushed.

The broken, racist ideology of Fortress Australia makes family reunification all but impossible while leaving the door wide open to an anti-immigrant troll.

I haven’t seen my mum or daughter since 2019. My anxiety is palpable. Every night I go to sleep thinking about when I’ll see my daughter, and if I’ll ever see my mother again. Every morning I wake up with a heavy heart. I’ve heard directly from so many families of their separation heartbreak. Yet, while tens of thousands are stranded overseas, 12 million people are in lockdown, thousands have lost their livelihoods without adequate support from the Morrison government, marginalised communities are being over-policed and maligned, a divisive hate-monger is allowed to swan right in to Sydney and rub our noses in our misery.

There is something very wrong with this picture. But then, there has been something wrong with the picture from the very start. ‘We’re all in this together’ was always a fiction. Ask the casual workers without a safety net, or the international students and migrant workers who were left high and dry, or the asylum seekers locked up in hotels indefinitely.

If I hear that we are the envy of the world one more time, I will scream. We are not the envy of the world.

Friends and family overseas cannot believe it when I tell them about state borders being shut at the whiff of an outbreak. They cannot believe it when I tell them about our vaccination mess. While we managed to limit case numbers and deaths by shutting our borders, the government completely botched the vaccine rollout, and squandered the opportunity to build our public health system to manage inevitable outbreaks. There is no timeline to open borders so travel can resume for ordinary people. It’s as if they prefer to shut us in and keep the world out.

I have no doubt in my mind that this obsession with border closures stems from the same mentality that has led us to hyper-nationalistic attitudes regarding ‘sovereignty’ and ‘security’ over the last two decades.

It’s the same double standards that saw the recent decision to ban and criminalise citizens and permanent residents returning home from India when no such restrictions were placed on Australians returning from Europe or the US at the height of the pandemic. It’s the same prejudice that has demonised desperate asylum seekers and locked them up in offshore detention centres to suffer out of sight and out of mind. This same nationalism, xenophobia and parochialism has resurfaced as governments have wielded more and more authority with less and less scrutiny during this crisis. And it is the same ideology that allows far-right figures like Katie Hopkins to fly in, while keeping families of migrants like mine separated for years.

Hopkins’ arrival in Sydney shouldn’t have been surprising. In many ways, she symbolises the sickness of our current politics that is bigoted and toxic to its core.  She’s called migrants ‘cockroaches’, Islam ‘disgusting’ and called for a ‘final solution.’ We’ve heard similar calls from our politicians, let alone far right commentators. But that doesn’t make it any less galling, especially when what she stands for is partly the reason we can’t reunite with our loved ones overseas.

News that Hopkins’ role with Channel Seven has been scrapped and her visa cancelled, with her likely to leave the country soon, offers only a small consolation. The ideology that stamped her passport and offered her a reality TV role in Australia is as strong as ever. It has not escaped me that her ‘cancellation’ in Australia has been due to her breach of hotel quarantine rules, not her toxic history of racism and xenophobia.

Border closures are taking an enormous toll on so many of us. They’ve been promoted shamelessly by the Morrison government as ‘the way things have to be’. But the painful reality is that things never had to be like this.