Djokovic visa cancellation quashed by Federal Court, government could cancel again

By Jackson Graham

January 10, 2022

Foreign investor did not secure Foreign Investment Review Board permission to buy in Australia. (AAP Image/James Ross)

The Federal Court has ordered world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic can stay in Australia after the federal government cancelled his visa days earlier. 

Judge Anthony Kelly on Monday quashed the decision by the Home Affairs minister to cancel Djokovic’s visa after the government conceded the case. But the government’s lawyers foreshadowed a further visa cancellation could now occur. 

Djokovic  arrived in Australia on Thursday despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19, and applied for a medical exemption to enter the country to play at the Australian Open based on previously having had the virus. 

The judge ordered that Djokovic now must be released from immigration detention no later than 30 minutes after making the order, have his passport and all personal items returned, and the government pay his legal costs. 

Kelly had signalled earlier in the hearing that “a professor and an eminently qualified physician” had provided Djokovic with a medical exemption, and a medical exemption was separately given by a further independent expert specialist panel, established by the Victorian government.

“The point I’m somewhat agitated about is; what more could this man have done?” Kelly told the court earlier on Monday. 

In arriving at a decision, Kelly highlighted cancelling the visa was “unreasonable” in circumstances where the applicant was told shortly after arrival that he could have until 8.30am to provide comments responding to a notice to cancel his visa. 

The applicant’s comments were sought around 6.14am, Kelly highlighted, leading to a decision at 7.42am. 

“The applicant was thus denied until 8.30am to make comments,” he said. “If the applicant had had until 8.30am, he could have consulted others and made submissions to the delegate about why his visa should not be cancelled.”

But the government’s lawyer Christopher Tran told the court that immigration minister Alex Hawke would now consider whether to exercise a personal power of cancellation after the government lost Monday’s case. 

Kelly said he expected to be informed well in advance if the government or delegate took any further action. 

“If this man is to be summarily removed upon a personal exercise of cancellation power, he cannot return to this country for three years,” Kelly said. 

“The stakes have now risen rather than receded. And I am very concerned, I cannot of course in any way purport to encroach upon the valid exercise of a minister of executive power. But these parties need to get down to tin tacks.

“Part of these submissions that have been made in this case, effectively by both parties – it’s a reciprocal submission – is that we all play by the same rules.

“Those rules were not observed.”

Monday’s hearing came amid technical issues plaguing the court’s online live stream, with internet viewers tuning in from across the world to watch the case involving the tennis superstar. 

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6 months ago

Morrison tried two angles – Blame Victoria, and Rules Are Rules. In law, he was dead wrong on both counts. At every step of the way, he is pathologically unfit to lead. Never forget, it was Howard and Baird who pushed him into parliament in 2007.

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