Overseas backpackers who participated in an open-air Christmas party at Sydney’s Bronte Beach in large numbers – in violation of state Covid-19 restrictions – may be forced to leave Australia.
Alex Hawke, the Federal immigration minister, told the ABC in an interview that the Government would assess anyone on a temporary visa caught breaching public health orders and those at Bronte Beach foreshore on Christmas Day may have their visas cancelled.
The New South Wales restrictions in place at the time for the northern beaches region of Sydney – where Bronte is located – did not allow people to gather outdoors in groups, although restrictions in other parts of the city allowed gatherings of up to 100 people.
‘Quite shocked’ to see the breaches
“We were quite shocked to see people who have been here a while now [and] who’ve seen the situation around the world; who understand the state of the world and what we’re in; breaching public health orders when we have an outbreak in Sydney,” the minister told the ABC.
Hawke said he had instructed the Department of Home Affairs to work with NSW authorities “to bring forward” any cases of people on visas breaching Covid restrictions.
“We will examine those visas and we will cancel them where necessary,” he said. Despite the restrictions on international travel, the minister confirmed that deportation was still possible.
Police want to the scene of the party on Friday when they became aware that around 100 people had gathered in breach of current public health orders. One man was issued with a court attendance notice after failing to comply with a move-on order, police said.
State health minister hit out at group
Speaking at the time, the NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, hit out at those who attended the gathering.
“People in the northern beaches have been doing their part, big time, to keep not only themselves but the rest of Sydney safe. It is absolutely appalling to see a large gathering of people who didn’t give a damn about the rest of Sydney,” Hazzard said.
“Let me tell you, I am hoping that will not become a super-spreader event – but there is every chance that it could be.”