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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

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Minister for Immigration Alex Hawke did not properly consider that anti-vax sentiment will be stoked if Novak Djokovic’s visa is cancelled, the tennis star’s counsel has told the Federal Court.

Nick Wood, SC, said the Minister had two binary choices – to cancel or not cancel the visa.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“If he did not cancel, then Mr Djokovic stays in Australia … and presumably stays in Australia for about two weeks hoping he wins some games and he goes home,” he said.

“The binary option two which was that the minister chose: cancel.”

He said it was irrational for the Minister not to properly consider both possible scenarios.

“It was irrational for the minister to only contemplate the prospect of the fostering of anti-vax sentiment that might accrue from Mr Djokovic playing tennis … and yet not consider the binary alternative, which was the prospect of anti-vax sentiment being fostered consequent to or following from coercive state action – being cancellation [of the visa] and expulsion.

“It is irrational or unreasonable to look at only one side of the coin.

“There was only one single item of evidence … that actually bore on this question and that item of evidence was the BBC report that only suggested anti-vax sentiment [was] aggravated by the cancellation option.

“There was no evidence at all about anti-vax sentiment being fostered by the option the minister did not pursue, which is simply letting my client play tennis for two weeks.”

Mr Wood said there should be “known facts of occurrences, something, a skerrick of evidence that supplied the basis for reasonable conjecture … about Mr Djokovic’s presence causing anti-vax sentiment”.

“There was none,” he said.

“There has been ample historical period in which – if evidence existed – could have been identified. None were. None were identified.”

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