Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic has won his Jan. 10 court case against the Australian government over the cancellation of his visa, but the federal immigration minister is considering intervening.
Judge Anthony Kelly has ruled that the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa was “unreasonable” under section 116 of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth), and therefore Kelly ordered Djokovic to be released with his personal belongings from immigration detention within 30 minutes of the judgment, the Guardian reported.
Section 116 does allow for the cancellation of visas, but Kelly stated that insufficient time was given to Djokovic to consult his lawyers, as he was told Jan. 6 at 5:20am that he would have until 8:30 am to respond to government officials and consult lawyers; however, his visa was cancelled at 7:42 am, before that deadline, according to News.com.au.
Kelly said that he was “somewhat agitated” with the Australian Border Force (ABF), because Djokovic had been cleared by “an eminently qualified physician” and an independent board for the Victorian government. Kelly agreed with Nick Wood, SC, Djokovic’s lawyer, that Djokovic had done everything necessary to enter Australia, and that if he had not done that, he would not have come, according to the Australian Financial Review.
Immigration lawyer John Findley has also stated that he believes the ABF’s treatment of Djokovic to be unfair, the ABC reported.
The government has been ordered to cover Djokovic’s legal fees, according to Sky News Australia.
Counsel for Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews, Christopher Tran, told Kelly that Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke is considering exercising his personal executive authority to suspend Djokovic’s visa for up to three years, preventing him from visiting Australia during that time. Upon hearing this, Kelly said that “the stakes have now risen rather than receded,” the Guardian reported.
Immigration law professor Mary Crock told the Guardian that although that power does exist under the Migration Act 1958 (Cth), it would lead to further court proceedings, which would consider the risk of an unvaccinated person entering into Australia, rather than merely procedural issues, and would be a politicised case.
John Findley told the ABC that Djokovic could have his visa suspended if it is found that he provided false information in applying for an exemption to the vaccination requirement for entry to Australia.
There have been claims that the government is trying to arrest Djokovic again, according to News.com.au; however, at the time of publication there has not been confirmation of this.
There has been international criticism of the Australian government and Tennis Australia over their handling of the situation.
At the time of writing, Novak Djokovic will be playing in the Australian Open.
Stuart Jeffery, aka LibertyDownUnder, is the founder of the Australian Liberty Network. He is also the host of the Gumtree of Liberty and Gumtree of Liberty Live podcasts, and is editor of the Liberty Review. Stuart is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts, majoring in international relations, at the University of Southern Queensland.