A Convenient Distraction for the Government

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has exercised his ministerial powers to revoke Novak Djokovic’s visa, meaning he could potentially be deported and miss the Australian Open.

This story has dominated headlines since Border Force revoked Mr Djokovic’s visa upon arrival in Australia on January 5, 2021, only to be returned via approval orders in the Federal Circuit Court last Monday.

Then, on Friday evening, after facing significant criticism for taking so long to deliver his decision, the Minister of Immigration made the decision to rescind the tennis player’s visa under Section 133c(3) of the Immigration Act “on health and good order, and on the grounds that it is in the public interest” to do that “.

The decision also means that Mr Djokovic may be banned from returning to Australia for at least three years.

Border Protection

Mr Hook said he had “carefully studied the information provided” by Djokovic, his own administration and the Australian Border Force.

“The Morrison government is deeply committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hawke said in a statement.

But Australia is currently in the middle of a pandemic, case numbers are rising daily, and it is difficult to see how a single tennis player could pose a serious public health threat at this time.

Meanwhile, it was reported that other tennis players who had medical exemptions have since left Australia, adding to the controversy and confusion.

Aren’t we supposed to prepare to open the country?

While Mr Djokovic has confirmed that he has not been vaccinated and has sought medical exemption on the basis that he had recently contracted Covid, it is not clear how players and other officials were allowed through immigration, nor does it provide any clarification about the treatment of tennis players or how this procedure might Been badly botched, while the world is watching.

The Australian Open is held annually and officials in all jurisdictions have plenty of time to plan and prepare.

Many viewed these events as a political ploy by the Morrison government to project its power on the world stage, to showcase Australia’s “strict border policies” (which organizations such as the United Nations have condemned).

Mr Djokovic’s treatment was appalling, particularly given reports that other players who have since left the country have been allowed in and have been able to roam freely around Melbourne. By contrast, Mr Djokovic was held in Melbourne’s Park Hotel, until his release under a Federal Circuit Court ruling where 32 refugees from Medivac have been held since their removal from overseas detention in December 2019.

In the middle of the week, the prime minister of Serbia spoke to Scott Morrison and simply asked that Mr. Djokovic be treated “with dignity”.

comfortable distraction

Perhaps the saga is not over yet. It is understood that Mr. Djokovic’s lawyers can still file an appeal at the eleventh hour.

It has also been reported that Mr Djokovic holds a diplomatic passport, although it is unclear whether this will make any difference.

Djokovic had earlier been asked to present himself for an interview with immigration officials on Saturday. No announcement was made regarding when he was ordered to leave the country.

Either way, losing the world number one will certainly be a blow to the Australian Open, which is set to start next week.

It has also provided the Morrison government with a very appropriate distraction, taking the focus away from the real problems it must solve, such as severe gaps in the grocery supply, the health system under stress and a severe lack of rapid antigen tests, all of which have a more direct impact on the lives of Australians. real time.

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