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Australia cancels Djokovic’s visa, PM Morrison defends decision

Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Friday cancelled the visa of international tennis ace Novak Djokovic ahead of Australia Open over his vaccination issue. Photo: @DjokerNole
Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Friday cancelled the visa of international tennis ace Novak Djokovic ahead of Australia Open over his vaccination issue. Photo: @DjokerNole

Canberra, Jan 14 (MNN) Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Friday cancelled the visa of international tennis ace Novak Djokovic ahead of Australia Open over his vaccination issue.

“I exercised my power today under Section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.

“This decision followed orders by the Federal Circuit and Family Court on January 10, 2022, quashing a prior cancellation decision on procedural fairness grounds,” the Minister said.

He said that in arriving at the decision to cancel visa, he carefully considered the information provided to him by Australia Department of Home Affairs, Australian Border Force and Djokovic.

Hawke asserted that the Scott Morrison government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I thank the officers of the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force who work every day to serve Australia’s interests in increasingly challenging operational environments.”

As per law, the Minister for Immigration has broad discretionary powers to cancel visas where it is in the public interest to do so, including relying on a health, safety or good order basis.

Following an adverse decision under Section 133C(3), the affected person would not be able to be granted a visa (while offshore) for a period of three years, except in certain circumstances.

These circumstances include compelling circumstances that affect the interests of Australia or compassionate or compelling circumstances affecting the interests of an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had noted the Minister’s decision in relation to Djokovic’s visa.

“I understand that following careful consideration, action has been taken by the Minister to cancel Djokovic’s visa held on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.”

He asserted that the pandemic has been incredibly difficult for every Australian but the country has stuck together and saved lives and livelihoods.

“Together we have achieved one of the lowest death rates, strongest economies and highest vaccination rates, in the world. Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected. This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today.”

He said that due to the expected ongoing legal proceedings, he will not provide any further comment.

Djokovic had landed in Melbourne on January 5, following which his visa was cancelled by the Australian government for not having a valid reason on no vaccination against Covid-19.

He had tested positive on December 16 last year and allegedly asserted there was no need for him to get vaccinated due to his earlier positive status and subsequent recovery.

The Serbian was detained for several days in a Melbourne hotel, where refugees are also housed.

The player however won a legal battle on Monday against the government decision.
On January 10, he tweeted: “I’m pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation. Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete in the Australian Open.

“I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans.”

In a statement on the social media last Wednesday, Djokovic however admitted that he had not immediately isolated himself after positive test last year but denied any knowledge about his infection while attending public events earlier on.

He apologised for the false information furnished on in his visa declaration process, including that he hadn’t travelled in the 14 days before his arrival in Australia. It was allegedly not true as photo evidence showed he had visited Spain and Serbia.

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