Minister told to make Djokovic decision

Dominic Giannini and Andrew Brown |

Novak Djokovic still faces uncertainty as to whether he can compete in the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic still faces uncertainty as to whether he can compete in the Australian Open.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has been told to get on and make his decision on whether Novak Djokovic can stay in the country and compete in the Australian Open.

Independent Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie implored the government to deal with the visa debacle after the World No.1 was named in the draw for the tournament, to face Serbian compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.

“Why does this keep dripping out of the tap,” the senator asked on Friday.

“Alex Hawke, where are you? Missing in action? 

“If you can’t make a decision on Novak Djokovic, goodness me, how are you guys running the country? This is an absolute shambles,” she told Nine Network.

Senator Lambie says Djokovic should be sent packing if he has broken the rules. 

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said while the visa issue was a matter for Mr Hawke the government had been very clear about its border control measures requiring people to be double vaccinated for COVID-19 before entering Australia.

“Our policy, not to come to any specific case, remains the same,” Senator Birmingham told the Nine Network.

But shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers says if Djokovic didn’t meet the visa requirements, he shouldn’t have been granted a visa in the first place.

“When Scott Morrison thought there was a political opportunity in this, he was all over it,” Mr Chalmers told the Nine Network,

“Now that it’s gone so badly, he wants to pretend it has nothing to do with him and it’s all Alex Hawke’s job and all of his fault.”

Mr Hawke has been pondering whether to use his discretionary powers to deport the Serbian tennis player for most of this week.

Asked whether Djokovic would have his visa cancelled, the prime minister noted Mr Hawke was still considering.

“I will refer to Mr Hawke’s most recent statement, and that position hasn’t changed,” Mr Morrison said in Canberra on Thursday.

“These are personal ministerial powers, able to be exercised by Minister Hawke, and I don’t propose to make any further comment at this time.”

The prime minister later said Australia’s border policy had not changed since reopening to international travellers in December.

“The individual has to show they are double-vaccinated, or must provide acceptable proof they can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons,” Mr Morrison said.

Meanwhile, Spanish officials are investigating the tennis star for potential border breaches after Djokovic travelled to Spain in late December for training.

Travellers from Serbia must have a vaccination certificate or a valid medical exemption to enter Spain.

The Spain trip has also landed Djokovic in hot water in Australia because he stated on his travel declaration form that he hadn’t travelled to other countries in the two-week period before his flight to Australia.

Djokovic said on social media an agent had made a mistake in filling out the declaration form.

Djokovic arrived in Australia on January 5 and was placed in immigration detention after officials cancelled his visa before a judge quashed the decision and he was freed.

The Australian Open begins on Monday.