The return of oscar winning actor Tom Hanks to Australia sparked a debate in Queensland parliament on Sept. 9 between Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Liberal National Party parliamentarians over Queensland’s mandatory quarantine program.
American Actor, Hanks, 64 arrived at Coolangatta’s Gold Coast Airport in Queensland on Sept. 8 to resume filming for director Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic, five months of testing positive for COVID-19.
It was expected that Hanks would undergo mandatory hotel quarantine like all new arrivals. However, an exemption to the rule enables industry groups like the film industry to make their own arrangements for quarantine.
This created some controversy in the Queensland parliament with Palaszczuk being forced to deflect numerous question on Hanks’ quarantine until the speaker of the chamber asked her to clarify the situation.
Palaszczuk explained(pdf) that the screen industry has an approved COVIDSafe blueprint: “Under that plan, they have to stay in the place for two weeks just like everybody else. They will have random checks—that is my understanding—by police,” she said.
State LNP MP Ros Bates argued that the Queensland government had established a double standard.
“They are quarantining at Versace—one rule for celebrities and another rule for sick people,” she said.
Palaszczuk claims the filming of the Elvis biopic will generate over $100 (US$72.1) million for the Gold Coast economy, and created around 900 jobs.
Filming was suspended at Village Roadshow Studios in Oxenford, in March when virus cases in Queensland were approaching its peak.
Hanks and wife Rita Wilson were some of the first celebrities diagnosed with the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
For two weeks Hanks stayed at Gold Coast University Hospital before flying back to his home in the United States.
Hanks plays Elvis Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker alongside co-star Austin Butler from Los Angeles who never left the Gold Coast throughout this period.