'Incredible damage': Labor's swipe at ScoMo over Novak Djokovic debacle

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·Sports Reporter
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Novak Djokovic's visa fiasco highlights the incompetence of the Scott Morrison-led federel government, the Labor's Kristina Keneally says. Pictures: Getty Images
Novak Djokovic's visa fiasco highlights the incompetence of the Scott Morrison-led federel government, the Labor's Kristina Keneally says. Pictures: Getty Images

The federal opposition has described the ongoing fiasco surrounding world No.1 Novak Djokovic's entry to Australia as 'incredibly damaging' to the nation's reputation overseas.

Djokovic was sent to immigration detention late last week upon arriving in Melbourne, after Border Force officials informed him his visa had been cancelled en-route after his Covid-19 vaccination status.

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Federal Circuit Court Judge Anthony Kelly said Djokovic was given insufficient time to speak to Tennis Australia officials and to lawyers to respond to being told of the intent to cancel his visa.

Freed from detention in Melbourne's Park Hotel, where more than 30 refugees remain in detention after the federal government cancelled their visas, some as many as nine years ago, Djokovic was granted access to warm-up courts at Melbourne Park hours after his release.

The government has labelled Judge Kelly's decision as one made on 'procedural grounds', with Immigration Minister Alex Hawke still with the option of personally cancelling Djokovic's visa.

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

Labor's shadow home affairs minister Kristina Keneally says the situation is a 'lose-lose' for Australia, simultaneously embarrassing the nation abroad while also making a mockery of the sacrifices made during various lockdowns.

"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 on Tuesday.

"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."

Senator Keneally said the saga made Australia "look like a bit of a joke" on the world stage.

"The Morrison government looks like a pack of idiots that couldn't organise a meat tray at the local raffle," she told Sky News.

"It would be a joke, except the consequences here are so serious."

Outcome of Novak Djokovic visa fiasco still to be decided

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".

The ATP issued a statement on Tuesday that welcomed the court ruling that quashed the decision to block Djokovic's entry into Australia.

Novak Djokovic remains hopeful of competing in the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic has been released from immigration detention after winning his court case against the federal government. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

"In travelling to Melbourne, it's clear Novak Djokovic believed he had been granted a necessary medical exemption in order to comply with entry regulations," the ATP said.

"The series of events leading to Monday's court hearing have been damaging on all fronts, including for Novak's well-being and preparation for the Australian Open."

The ATP also called for greater clarity over the rules.

"The ATP fully respects the sacrifices the people of Australia have made since the onset of COVID-19 and the stringent immigration policies that have been put in place," it said.

"Complications in recent days related to player entry into Australia have however highlighted the need for clearer understanding, communication and application of the rules."

The ATP also urged all of its male players to get vaccinated, with 97 per cent of the top 100 already jabbed.

With AAP

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