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  • Barnaby Joyce says Australia doesn’t make border exemptions for celebrities despite list of examples – Daily Mail

 January 10

by Carolina

Barnaby Joyce claims Australia does not make border exemptions for the rich and famous – despite a long list of celebrities being granted special treatment.  

The deputy prime minister weighed in on the Novak Djokovic visa saga after the unvaccinated tennis star was denied entry into Australia.

The world No.1 is detained in a Melbourne hotel awaiting a federal court decision to be allowed to contest his 10th Australian Open title, or be deported.

Mr Joyce insisted Australia, which requires foreign arrivals to be vaccinated, would not soften the rules for elite sportsmen.

Novak Djokovic is detained in a Melbourne hotel awaiting a federal court decision to be allowed to contest his 10th Australian Open title, or be deported.

‘We are not making special exemptions for people because they’re rich and famous, that’s not how Australia works,’ he said on Sunrise on Monday. 

But the nation’s second in command – who has previously been caught flouting Covid rules himself – may be forced to eat his own words. 

Since Australia closed its border in March 2020, dozens of A-listers – including Rebel Wilson, Natalie Portman, Ed Sheeran, and Matt Damon – have been gifted exemptions to sidestep international arrival requirements.   

Australia’s border closure – which barred all foreigners from entering without an exemption and required Australian citizens to get permission to leave – was among the strictest in the world until it opened on November 1.

About 35,000 Australians were stranded overseas at any given time, but mega rich executives and Hollywood celebrities were able to land on private jets.

Data from aviation analytics firm Cirium showed 113 private jets touched down in Australia between April 2020 and May 2021, with 94 hailing from the US. 

Some of the biggest names on board the private flights included singer Ed Sheeran, and movie stars Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, and Matt Damon.  

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce (pictured) on Monday claimed Australia does not make border exemptions for the ‘rich and famous’

A-listers, including Rebel Wilson (pictured) Natalie Portman, Ed Sheeran, and Matt Damon, have been granted special exemptions for Australia’s Covid policies during the pandemic

Rebel Wilson, 41, pictured at a public park in Sydney on December 8 after being granted an exemption to skip Australia’s mandatory 72-hour quarantine from NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard after arriving in Sydney from LA

In most cases, private jets also equated to private quarantine with many given permission to self-isolate in secluded mansions, with the assistance of medical professionals who offered home visitation services. 

Celebrities paid huge sums for the privilege while ordinary Australians languished in hotel quarantine for two weeks eating bad food without fresh air. 

In July last year, Natalie Portman, her husband Benjamin Millepied and fellow Hollywood star Sacha Baron Cohen sparked fury when they were spotted cruising in a rented boat around Sydney during the city’s strict stay-at-home orders. 

Following complaints, NSW Police investigated but decided ‘no further action would be taken’, ruing the group complied with active public health orders.

For other members of the wealthy elite, isolations regulations have been completely ignored. 

Last month, Wilson, 41, was granted permission by the NSW government to skip mandatory 72-hour quarantine after flying into Sydney from Los Angeles to attend the AACTA Awards. 

The actress was spotted walking through a public park on December 8, just hours after touching down, and her manager told Daily Mail Australia top state authorities personally waived the mandate. 

‘Rebel received government permission from NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard,’ they said.

The manager was unable to provide a reason why the Pitch Perfect star was granted the exemption, but said the star ‘had been doing multiple PCR [nose and throat swab] tests’ since her arrival in Sydney.     

Natalie Portman is among a list of celebrities who were granted permission to enter Australia despite strict international border rules banning foreigners. She is pictured with her husband Benjamin Millepied attending a NRL match in Sydney on March 26 last year 

 The actress and and A-list friend Sacha Baron Cohen sparked community outrage after they were spotted heading out for a boat ride in Sydney (pictured) during the city’s stay at home orders last July – which banned residents from venturing outside except for ‘essential’ reasons

Aside from Hollywood A-listers granted exemptions for local filming projects, the government has also allowed cricket, rugby, tennis, and religious figures cross the closed border over the past two years to participate in tournaments and events.  

The double standard sparked outrage against Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government as thousands of Australians were abandoned abroad.  

However, the federal government maintained lifting the travel ban for wealthy visa holders was in the national interest – fuelling accusations it was putting the economy before its citizens’ human rights.

Politicians have also been caught violating Covid public health orders, with former NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin resigning in April last year after he breached Sydney’s lockdown to travel to his Central Coast holiday home. 

He was fined $1,000 and Mr Joyce was hit with a $200 penalty by NSW Police two months later for failing to wear a mask while re-fuelling his car at a petrol station in Armidale, in the state’s north.

Julia Roberts (pictured) flew into Australia with her husband and children on a private jet last March to begin filming 

Djokovic has been holed up in an immigration detention hotel since arriving in Melbourne on Wednesday after his visa application was rejected by Australian Border Force Officials.

His team initially sought a medical exemption from vaccination requirements on the grounds the 34-year-old had tested positive for Covid-19 in December. 

Before his flight, the Serbian’s medical exemption was granted by Victorian authorities to allow the tennis star to compete in the grand slam.  

The saga drew mixed reactions from around the world, with many – including big tennis stars like Nick Kyrgios and Andy Murray – sympathising with Djokovic’s situation and criticising the Australia’s handling of the situation. 

Others supported the federal government’s decision to maintain strict vaccination requirements. 

Djokovic’s lawyers challenged the federal government’s decision, with an outcome whether he will be deported or permitted to stay to be made in court on Monday. 

Czech player Renata Voracova, who was detained in the same detention hotel as Djokovic and had her visa revoked after issues with her vaccine exemption, left the country without challenging her status, the Czech Foreign Ministry said. 

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Barnaby Joyce’s office for comment.  

Novak Djokovic (pictured with Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley in 2021) has been detained as he awaits a court verdict as to whether he will be able to defend his 10th Australian Open title

Original posted at www.dailymail.co.uk

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