The Hollywood superstar at the centre of Queensland’s border exemption controversy is now out of quarantine and set to begin work on the Gold Coast.
Tom Hanks touched down two weeks ago to begin filming for Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic, which was originally slated to begin filming in March but was suspended when the star contracted COVID-19.
Luhrmann and the Queensland Government spent months formulating a COVIDSafe plan which would allow filming to resume, tipped to inject $100 million into the local economy.
As a result, Hanks was allowed to fly into Australia while thousands of Australians remain stranded overseas.
It prompted a woman stranded in London, desperately waiting to return home to Australia, to pen a letter to Hanks, expressing how “disheartening” it was to see celebrities head to Australia while she had been waiting months to return home.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk came under fire for allowing the movie star to enter the state, even copping criticism from the Prime Minister, amid a heartbreaking case of a Canberra woman denied approval to attend her father’s funeral.
On Sydney radio on Thursday morning, before border restrictions were eased to allow ACT residents into the sunshine state, Mr Morrison said he didn’t expect special treatment to enter Queensland.
Mr Morrison accused the state of “double standards”, after 400 AFL executives were also allowed to enter the state while ordinary Australians remained locked out.
“Well I don’t think there should be double standards, I mean it’s not like I’m a Hollywood movie star or in the AFL or anything,” he told Nova’s Fitzy and Wippa.
In a press conference on Wednesday morning, Deputy Premier Steven Miles said he was “shameless” in supporting jobs on the Gold Coast, including in the film and TV industry.
“It’ll be great to see how people around the world talk about the fact that it was filmed on the Gold Coast,” he said.
“I’m sure it will encourage other film producers to come here… we’re one of the few places that can be fully open for film production.
“It really goes to underline how some people want to make this a choice between health and the economy, but it’s not a choice.
“You have to get the health response right first, and then we can get on with creating jobs, just as we have in the film industry.”
CHO Dr Jeannette Young revealed part of the reason why Hanks and his cast and crew mates were allowed to enter Queensland was for monetary reasons, namely that it would provide a well-needed boost for the state’s struggling economy.
“I have given exemptions from people in entertainment and film because that is bringing a lot of money into this state,” she said in a press conference earlier this month.
Mr Morrison said he understood why people were “frustrated” to see the “double standards.”
“Queenslanders are fair-minded people. I know, I’m sure the vast majority of Queenslanders would support the border being in place. That’s why it’s not about that, it’s about – you know, Queenslanders are very fair-minded people too, and I think this is what would offended them, the double standards that are there,” Mr Morrison said on September 10.
Hanks, alongside co-star Austin Butler, will begin filming at Village Roadshow Studios on Wednesday.
While Hanks was spotted at Pacific Fair on Tuesday, castmate Butler, who will play Elvis, was also spotted at Broadbeach.
Initial reports suggested Hanks was quarantining in a lavish Gold Coast hinterland estate, but that was later denied by Ms Palaszczuk who said the star was staying in a “government approved hotel”.
“My advice is that he is staying in a hotel, so I am told that he is not staying in a house,” she said on Sunday.
“There are other people who have flown in from LA into Sydney and are staying in New South Wales now obviously they would have had to get the exemptions and border force checks as well … but unfortunately we’re not hearing anything about that in New South Wales, all we are hearing is about Queensland.
“Scott Morrison flew up here a few months ago and talked about more incentives to get more movies here, so that’s okay, we put in on the table more incentives to get movies here as well, and I’ll tell you what they want to come to Queensland and film and that means keeping people on the Gold Coast in employment and I’ll fight for those jobs.”