‘Stop this debacle’: Minister urged to act on Djokovic

Novak Djokovic at a basketball game in Serbia in December – a day after he says he tested positive to COVID.

Novak Djokovic at a basketball game in Serbia in December – a day after he says he tested positive to COVID. Photo: Getty

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.

He will face Serbian compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.

“Why does this keep dripping out of the tap?,” Senator Lambie said on Friday.

“It’s about time to stop this debacle, finish it once and for all,” she told Nine Network.

“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.”

Mr Hawke has the discretionary power to cancel a Federal Court ruling reinstating Djokovic’s visa. He is expected to announced his decision on Friday.

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

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

But shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said if Djokovic – who revealed in documents submitted to the court that he told Australian Border Force officers he was not vaccinated – didn’t meet requirements, he shouldn’t have been granted a visa at all.

“When [Prime Minister] 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 on Thursday whether Djokovic would have his visa cancelled, Mr Morrison noted Mr Hawke was still considering.

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

“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.”

While Mr Morrison did not comment on Djokovic’s personal circumstances, he 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,” he said.

“That is the policy, and we would expect authorities to be implementing the policy of the government when it comes to those matters.”

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 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.

-with AAP

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