How Australia’s handling of Djokovic exposed its flawed immigration system to the world | Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic has claimed victory in a single courtroom, and is again on yet another acquainted.

However as he prepares for the Australian Open at Melbourne Park, he does so with a Damoclean sword hanging above his head.

Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, an in depth ally of the prime minister, is uniquely vested with extraordinary powers: at any time, with the stroke of the ministerial pen, he can finish Djokovic’s proper to keep in the nation, and ban him for 3 years.

Inside authorities, these are generally known as the “God powers”, and their use – and misuse – has been controversial for many years.


“I’ve fashioned the view that I’ve an excessive amount of energy,” a former holder of the immigration portfolio, Senator Chris Evans, mentioned greater than a decade in the past.

“I’m uncomfortable with that, not simply because of concern about enjoying God, but additionally as a result of of the lack of transparency and accountability for these choices and the lack in some instances of any enchantment rights towards these choices.”

Since Evans aired these issues to the parliament, successive governments have falsely conflated migration with terrorism, or criminality, to justify an increasing number of excessive powers.

Australia’s federal courtroom docket is quietly full of dozens of challenges to visa cancellations. Hardly ever are they as lucky as Djokovic: backed by cash, institutional help, media consideration, and a authorized crew in the multitudes.

The worst-case state of affairs he confronted was the abandonment of a tennis match (albeit a major one).

However for a refugee arriving in Australia looking for safety, with out cash or sources, with out English or information of Australia’s arcane migration regulation, what prospects for a profitable conclusion?

The glimpse of the authorities’s actions in the Djokovic case illuminate the capricious and arbitrary perspective taken by the Australian authorities in direction of individuals looking for entry.

Australia is exclusive amongst liberal democracies for indefinitely detaining asylum seekers (although solely those that arrive by boat).

There are, proper now, as Djokovic practises on Melbourne Park’s courts, refugees who arrived in Australia as youngsters – whose declare for cover has been formally recognised – who’ve been stranded in detention for 9 years. A childhood wasted, an maturity fashioned in unjustified incarceration.

There are stateless individuals – who don’t have any nation to which they’ll return – who’ve been detained greater than a decade.

For them, there isn’t any swift decision, no flag-waving supporters in the avenue, no presidential intervention, speedy courtroom listening to, or forensic media glare.

For them, it is just the sluggish, grinding demoralisation of a probably limitless incarceration.


Australia’s detention regime is damaging, psychiatrists, the United Nations, and people working the regime itself, have repeatedly warned. The uncertainty of indefinite detention, the Australian authorities has been compelled to recognise, is much more dangerous.

Visa cancellations, both at the border or in the group (as two others concerned in the Australian Open have found), are commonplace. The federal government routinely cancels visas on so-called “character grounds”, powers are used towards these convicted of critical crimes, or these believed to pose a menace to Australia.

However these extraordinary powers, in sure instances unchallengeable, are additionally usually misused.

Some in Australia have had their visas cancelled for committing no crime in any respect. A stateless man acquitted of a homicide wrongly alleged towards him had his protection visa cancelled regardless final 12 months: he confronted detention for the relaxation of his life.

One other man, 35, who had lived in Australia since the age of one, had his visa cancelled, and confronted deportation to New Zealand, for belonging to an outlaw bike gang that was not outlawed in the state the place he lived. His behaviour was “fully lawful” the minister was compelled to concede.

In each instances, the federal courtroom (the similar courtroom by which Djokovic fought his case) intervened, after months of detention and uncertainty, to discover, in the latter case, that the minister’s resolution was “baffling”, “irrational and illogical” and “legally unreasonable”.

The Djokovic case, too, has exposed a worldwide apartheid round motion.

Earlier than the world pandemic, for these with the proper passport, or sufficient cash, free motion had change into an expectation, a proper that might be relied upon.

For these with out – many fleeing struggle, famine, persecution, or pure catastrophe – the world was a tightly constrained place, borders had been hardened towards them, with guarantees (and realities) or partitions or armed guards, with compelled deportations or boats being compelled again to sea.

“Djokovic’s detention and subsequent speedy enchantment course of contrasts starkly with the ongoing and extended inhumane remedy of refugees in Australia’s migration system,” Refugee Council of Australia chief govt Paul Energy mentioned.

“Refugees looking for asylum in Australian airports don’t even get entry to legal professionals earlier than they’re placed on the subsequent flight out of Australia, not to mention an opportunity to argue their case.”

Refugee detained in same hotel as Novak Djokovic speaks about situation – video
Refugee detained in similar lodge as Novak Djokovic speaks about scenario – video

That Djokovic was momentarily lodge in the similar lodge as refugees now of their ninth 12 months of indefinite detention made that distinction all the extra stark.

A lot has been made of the “Fortress Australia” mentality that has emerged into public prominence with the coronavirus pandemic. However the isolationist streak runs far deeper.

In its incompetent handling of Djokovic’s case, the Australian authorities has exposed not only one weird case, however systemic, structural flaws in the approach Australia treats those that arrive on its shores.

Nation-states have the authorized proper to decide who crosses their borders. However there may be an obligation that they deal with individuals pretty, act fairly, and with out duplicity.

Compared to his colleagues, Djokovic will not be well-liked in Australia.

His anti-vaccination stance appears, to many in a inhabitants that’s extremely vaccinated and has been repeatedly locked down, irresponsible, entitled and smug.

The Australian authorities may need sought to make an instance of the world’s finest male tennis participant, as an illustration that, as the prime minister mentioned, “guidelines are guidelines”. It may need determined to single him out as a political distraction from its foundering, chaotic pandemic response.

However it has completed the reverse. Guidelines, it appears, weren’t guidelines. The federal government’s brokers noticed match to act as they happy, solely this time, the world bought to see simply the way it occurs.

Djokovic’s case reveals a far bigger drawback.

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button