Australia

Project host Lisa Wilkinson calls Novak Djokovic’s announcement a ‘classic political move’

Lisa Wilkinson has labeled Immigration Secretary Alex Hawke’s decision to revoke Novak Djokovic’s visa at 6 p.m. Friday as a “classic political move.”

During a clip that aired tonight on The Project, both Wilkinson and co-host Nazeem Hussein suggested the timing of the move was a tactic to bury the story.

Politicians, businesses and government departments often release late news on Fridays in a practice known as “taking out the trash.”

“Well, Friday night at 6:00 PM, dropping political stories is a classic political move if you want to kill a story,” Wilkinson said. “But I don’t think this story will be murdered!”

The veteran journalist made the comments during a segment discussing the day's news on Friday

The veteran journalist made the comments during a segment discussing the day’s news on Friday

Hawke announced Djokovic’s eviction at 5:50 p.m. – some four days after the Australian government lost a previous lawsuit to deport the sportsman.

The decision-making process seemed excruciatingly slow from the outside, with media reports every day claiming that Mr Hawke was about to make a decision.

That moment finally came on Friday, when Mr. Hawke announced: “Today I exercised my authority under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to revoke Mr. Novak Djokovic’s visa for reasons of health and good order, on the ground that it is in the public interest to do so.

“In making this decision, I have carefully considered the information provided to me by the Home Office, the Australian Border Force and Mr Djokovic.

Advantage, Australian government?  Legal experts say Novak Djokovic's chances of overcoming Immigration Minister's decision are slim

Advantage, Australian government? Legal experts say Novak Djokovic’s chances of overcoming Immigration Minister’s decision are slim

The Morrison government is committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The move has already sparked an overnight legal battle with Djokovic’s lawyers who are expected to file a ban tonight against the visa withdrawal.

Legal experts have said the tennis superstar’s chances of overturning the minister’s decision are slim.

Immigration expert floored by ‘extreme powers’ used to revoke Novak Djokovic’s visa – but insists there’s still a chance he could play in Australian Open

A leading immigration expert has been stunned by the decision to revoke tennis superstar Novak Djokovic’s visa just days before the Australian Open.

Abul Rizvi, a former deputy immigration secretary, told Channel 10’s The Project on Friday evening that he was shocked by immigration minister Alex Hawke’s announcement.

Mr Rizvi also added that the world No. 1 can appeal the decision through his lawyers, meaning he can still compete in the Grand Slam at Melbourne Park on Monday.

Former deputy immigration secretary Abul Rizvi told Channel 10's The Project on Friday evening that Immigration Secretary Alex Hawke's move to revoke Novak Djokovic's visa shocked him.

Former deputy immigration secretary Abul Rizvi told Channel 10’s The Project on Friday evening that Immigration Secretary Alex Hawke’s move to revoke Novak Djokovic’s visa shocked him.

The 34-year-old world number one can appeal the decision on legal grounds through his lawyers - meaning he can still be present at Melbourne Park on Monday

The 34-year-old world number one can appeal the decision on legal grounds through his lawyers – meaning he can still be present at Melbourne Park on Monday

“So what the minister (Mr. Hawke) has done is use the second 113C of the (Migration) Act,” Rizvi said.

“It gives him the power to revoke a visa holder’s visa if the minister deems it in the public interest.

And he can do that without giving the visa holder any natural justice. That’s what he did. It’s a very, very extreme force.

“I remember when it was being developed we thought it would only be used in the most extraordinary and rare of circumstances, where someone was posing a very serious risk to the Australian population.

“I never expected it to be used in these circumstances.”

Mr Rizvi labeled the decision a ‘high wire act’ – and that he would have advised Mr Hawke to take a different path.

The Project’s panel also labeled the timing of the news — 6 p.m. Friday — as a “classic political move.”

It comes after Mr Hawke said he was acting for “reasons of health and good order on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so”.

The cancellation effectively means that Djokovic, 34, will be banned from a new Australian visa for three years, except under certain circumstances.

The visa decision jeopardized the Serbian world number one’s dream of a 10th Australian Open title and a record 21st Grand Slam.

He Djokovic successfully appeals the decision and wins – again – he is granted a bridging visa for his ‘work’ as a professional tennis player.

The megastar first flew to Melbourne airport on January 5 and claimed a vaccine waiver due to a positive PCR test result on December 16.

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