Scott Morrison has spoken with Serbia's PM about the Novak Djokovic saga. Here's what they discussed

The future of Novak Djokovic's fight to stay in Australia remains in limbo with the tennis star still facing the prospect of having his visa cancelled by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.

Mr Morrison has held a call with Serbia's Prime Minister Ana Brnabić to discuss the situation facing Novak Djokovic.

Mr Morrison has held a call with Serbia's Prime Minister Ana Brnabić to discuss the situation facing Novak Djokovic. Source: SBS

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has spoken directly with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić amid continued uncertainty over whether tennis star Novak Djokovic could still be deported from Australia. 

The World No.1 was freed from immigration detention on Monday after a Federal Circuit Court judge ruled a decision to cancel his visa last week be overturned.


But Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has said he is still considering whether to use his discretionary powers to revoke the Serbian national's visa.    

The tennis star's hopes of defending his Australian Open title will remain in limbo for at least another day.

A spokesperson for Mr Hawke said: "in line with due process, Minister Hawke will thoroughly consider the matter."

"As the issue is ongoing, for legal reasons it is inappropriate to comment further."
During a call with Mr Morrison, Ms Brnabić asked for Djokovic to be treated fairly by Australian authorities and demanded that his rights be respected, according to Serbian News Agency TANJUG.  

Djokovic's treatment has prompted diplomatic anger from Serbia with its president Aleksandar Vučić previously accusing Australian authorities of "harassment".

A read out of the call provided by Mr Morrison's office described the discussion as "constructive" and said the leaders agreed to stay in contact on the issue.

It said Mr Morrison had explained Australia's border policies were "non-discriminatory" and aimed at protecting against the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Ms Brnabić also emphasised the need for Djokovic to be given appropriate conditions for training ahead of the Australian Open, which begins next week.

It's understood Ms Brnabić requested the call with Mr Morrison. 

As fallout over the visa controversy continues, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese would not be drawn on what decision should be made over Djokovic's future. 

"This has caused a great international embarrassment for Australia," he told reporters.

"It is one that could have been avoided had there been a clear decision made prior to any visa being granted."

Federal Liberal MP and former professional tennis player John Alexander has urged the government to let Djokovic stay and compete.

He said the judge presiding over Novak Djokovic’s appeal was “abundantly clear” in his ruling.

"The judge has looked at this obviously very, very carefully and he has made a very strong decision," he told the ABC.

The MP, who will retire at the next federal election, said Djokovic posed no “threat to Australian society” and there was “no reason” for his visa to be cancelled.

Liberal Member for Bennelong John Alexander addresses the media in Sydney.
Liberal Member for Bennelong John Alexander addresses the media in Sydney. Source: AAP

The decision to allow Djokovic to contest the Australian Open has also won support from the peak men's tennis body.

"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 Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) said.

The ATP also called for greater clarity over the rules. 

Fronting the media, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the Australian Open was bigger than one player and he would not lobby Mr Hawke to act either way. 

Djokovic treatment places spotlight on border policies

The court ruling on Djokovic’s case has also prompted fierce reaction from refugee advocates.

Refugee Council of Australia CEO Paul Power said his detention and subsequent speedy appeal process contrasts starkly with the ongoing and prolonged inhumane treatment of refugees in Australia’s migration system.

“It is disappointing that it has taken the detention of a tennis player to highlight Australia’s ongoing practice of mandatory detention on the world stage,” he said in a statement. 

UN Special Rapporteur Migration Felipe González on Monday evening also tweeted that the standards applied to Djokovic should be the same for all.

“Australia, whose migration policies have been repeatedly denounced to be in serious violation of human rights, should ensure that the standards applied in the case … are applied to everyone,” he said.

Greens immigration spokesperson Senator Nick McKim also said the Djokovic's treatment had shown the world the “arbitrary cruelty” of Australia’s migration system.

“The Djokovic case has exposed massive government incompetence and the entirely opportunistic nature of border politics in Australia,” he said in a statement.

With AAP

4 min read
Published 11 January 2022 at 12:30pm
By Tom Stayner
Source: SBS