‘Rules are clear!’ Djokovic debacle blasted as national ‘embarrassment’ by labour leader

Novak Djokovic: Vine clashes with caller defending tennis star

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Novak Djokovic’s ongoing visa saga has been slammed by the Australian Labor leader, labelling the “debacle” as “characteristic” of the Scott Morrison government. Antony Albanese said it was typical of Mr Morrison’s government particularly as the Liberal Prime Minister claims to lead an administration that “takes borders seriously”. He said: “First they said somehow it wasn’t their responsibility the fact that the Australian government issued a visa. And this could have all been avoided.

“This government says it takes borders seriously and the issue of visas seriously.”

Mr Albanese went on to point out the double standards applied to ordinary Australians and his shock that Mr Morrison didn’t anticipate the controversy.

He said: “There are people in this community who know that they have tried to get a visa for their mum or dad or aunty or uncle or child … to come to Australia.

“There are Australian citizens who are threatened with jail terms, you might recall, if they returned to Australia from India at one stage.

“But somehow the issuing of the visa for Novak Djokovic that occurred by the Australian government, that’s a surprise to the Morrison government that this was controversial.”

The Australian labour leader’s comments came just before a court hearing on whether the Serbian tennis star can stay in the country.

Mr Albanese continued to add that not only was the Federal government slow to respond to the crisis but that it couldn’t explain why the visa had been issued apparently in contradiction with its own rules.

He said: “And the idea, the idea that it was unknown that this was coming, and the idea that only late on a Friday afternoon on the weekend before the tournament begins, after the draw has taken place, we finally have a decision from the federal government says it all. 

“There has been a great embarrassment for Australia, (and) it’s one that could have been avoided. The rules are clear, you need to be double vaccinated in order to enter Australia.

“And we still don’t have an explanation for how it is that the Australian government under Scott Morrison issued the visa in the first place.

“The right decision was to stop the visa being issued in the first place and the rules are very clear.

“What’s [happened] here is a debacle which has been dragged out for day after day after day.” 

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke who authorised the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa said he accepts that the Serbian’s recent covid infection was genuine.

Mr Hawke added that the world number 1 was “a negligible risk of infection and therefore presents a negligible risk to those around him.”

However, he went on to argue that his presence in Australia could “strengthen “anti-vaccination sentiment among a minority of Australians.

Djokovic’s legal team dismissed this as “illogical” and “irrational” and that the minister had provided no evidence that the Tennis star would increase anti-vaccination sentiment.

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