'In direct contact': Serbia's ScoMo demand in Novak Djokovic saga

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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is pictured left, with Novak Djokovic on the right.
Serbia has asked Scott Morrison (L) to keep them abreast of any further Novak Djokovic developments. Pic: Getty

Serbia's Prime Minister has called on Australian counterpart Scott Morrison to provide "direct contact" on any further developments in the Novak Djokovic soap opera.

On Monday night, a judge overturned the federal government's decision to cancel Djokovic's visa and ordered him to be released from immigration detention in Melbourne.

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Following the court decision, which the government says was "on a procedural ground", Immigration Minister Alex Hawke is reportedly considering whether to use his discretionary powers to cancel Djokovic's visa.

"The minister is currently considering the matter and the process remains ongoing," a spokesman told AAP.

The messy situation has created headlines around the world and left Djokovic's family and supporters outraged.

Speaking to reporters in Serbia, Djokovic's mother Dijana described her son's Melbourne detention as "torture", while the 34-year-old's father Srdan labelled Mr Morrison a "dictator" in a savage swipe at Australian authorities.

“Autocracy has shown its true face today. Contrary to the decision of the independent court of Australia, dictator Scott (Morrison) ordered the arrest of my son, your world champion, Novak Djokovic, and deportation, banning him from entering the country for three long years,” Srđan Đoković said. 

“The court showed that law exists in Australia, but Scott dared to take justice into his own hands.

“I call on the Queen of Britain, Elizabeth, the leader of the Commonwealth, to intervene and protect the human rights of my son Novak Djokovic and to stop the political prosecution that has been carried out against him since he came to Australia.

“I call on all Australians and the whole world to raise their voice against terror, and the brutal human rights violations of the world’s best tennis player.

The situation threatens to sour Australia's relationship with Serbia but Mr Morrison's office said the PM had a constructive call with Serbian counterpart Ana Brnabic on Tuesday morning.

In the call, Mr Morrison explained Australia's non-discriminatory border policy and its role in protecting the country during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Seen here, Serbia's Prime Minister Ana Brnabic gives a speech at a UNESCO function.
Serbia's Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has asked for direct contact with Australian counterpart Scott Morrison over any future Novak Djokovic developments. Pic: Getty

The leaders agreed to stay in contact on the issue, and to further strengthening the bilateral relationship.

Serbia's public broadcaster, RTS, reported the Serbian Prime Minister asked Mr Morrison to ensure the tennis star was treated with dignity.

"The (Serbian) Prime Minister especially emphasised the importance of the conditions for training and physical preparation for the upcoming competition, considering that Novak Djokovic was not allowed to train in the previous days, and the tournament in Melbourne starts this weekend," RTS reported.

"The Prime Minister also asked (Mr) Morrison to be in direct contact in the coming days and for all information to be exchanged directly between the government of Serbia and the government of Australia."

Novak Djokovic fallout rolls on

It comes as the fallout over the cancellation of Djokovic's visa - which was then overturned - continues to make international headlines.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the Australian Open was bigger than one player but that he was not lobbying Mr Hawke to act either way.

Pictured right is Immigration Minister Alex Hawke alongside a photo of Novak Djokovic.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke (R) could still use his discretionary powers to send Novak Djokovic home. Pic: Getty

"I'm not going to be out there every day calling for him to use them or not use them, that's a matter for him," he said.

"He ought to do that free of any pressure, free of any public debate."

Labor frontbencher Kristina Keneally said the Djokovic saga is a lose-lose for the federal government, as the fallout over his immigration detention and visa issue continues.

The opposition home affairs spokeswoman said the confusion over the tennis star's visa comes down to a lack of planning by the government.

Senator Keneally said the government should have been clear about whether it was right for Djokovic to enter the country to play in the Australian Open when it initially granted him the visa.

"What does it say if you get deported? And what does it say about if he gets to stay?" Senator Keneally told the Seven Network.

"If (he) gets deported it does incredible damage to Australia, if he gets to stay it does incredible damage to our tough border laws and is a real insult to the Australians who did the hard work of lockdowns and vaccination."

Federal Liberal MP and former professional tennis player John Alexander said the government should let Djokovic stay and compete in the competition beginning this weekend.

"I see it as something that should not become a political problem. It is not political at this point," he told the ABC.

"The rules regarding visa applications and approvals are quite clear, they're complex, but they are clear, and the judge has looked at this obviously very, very carefully and he has made a very strong decision."

The MP, who will retire at the next federal election, argued the granting of the visa did not come down to the government but rather "the person who processed Novak (and) possibly made an error late at night".

with AAP

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