World Number one tennis player, Novak Djokovic has been deported following the ten day appeal process about whether he was able to remain in Australia for the Australian Open. 

Originally Djokovic was given a medical exemption to allow him to enter Australia to participate in the Australian Open despite that he was not vaccinated against COVID-19.  

Djokovic was first issued with a temporary visa which allows individuals to work in Australia for a short-term period, including for sporting activities. This was prior to his medical exemption being granted.  

He was originally granted a medical exemption by the Chief Medical Officer of Tennis Australia, as he had recently recovered from COVID-19. When he entered the country on 5 January 2022, The Acting Australian Border force Commissioner examined an issue with his Travel Declaration and he was detained. 

The Australian government cancelled his visa the day after his arrival before Djokovic’s legal team challenged the Government’s decision to deport Djokovic. 

The challenge was originally successful and Judge Anthony Kelly quashed the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa on 10 January 2022. 

Four days later Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used his personal powers to cancel Djokovic’s visa in the overall final decision from the Government. The Immigration minister was able to do this as the Immigration and Home Affairs ministers, share 47 personal powers which they are able to use to enforce the Migration Act. 

The Minister’s discretionary powers stem form section 51(xix) of the Australian Constitution which states that Parliament has the power to make laws with respect to “naturalisation and aliens”.  

Under section 133C of the Migration Act, Mr Hawke, using his discretionary powers, cancelled Djokovic’s visa. He has said that it was in the public interest to cancel the visa as Djokovic was a ‘talisman of anti-vaccination sentiment’. He also stated that if Djokovic was to remain in Australia on the visa then his presence may incite ‘civil unrest’. 

The threshold of the Minister’s powers to cancel a visa under section 133C of the Migration Act is very low and does not require reasonable doubt to be shown for the cause of the cancellation.  

This case shows just how vast the Government’s authority can reach under their powers provided in the Constitution. Djokovic has been deported and has now been automatically banned from re-entering Australia for three years.  

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