There will be no golf this morning for three of Australia’s “wise men” – judges of the Australian Federal Court. Novak Djokovic of Serbia is having another day, or in this case, another morning in court. Prince Andrew of the tenuously named United Kingdom has already had some of his days in a court in the United States of America without the result he hoped for.
Whether these two ultimately win or lose they’ve demonstrated how important it is for everyone to have what is laughingly called “access to justice” – the right and means to access the judicial system.
Both these boys have also demonstrated how important it is not only to have the right but also the means. Rich and famous Novak and Andrew present a formidable argument for ensuring the publicly funded legal aid system of representation is available and available at speed.
You could also add to that “access to media”. Andrew was provided with an out of court opportunity to tell all to us all. That apparently went down like a cup of cold sick. And we’ve seen the publicly enraged supporters of Djokovic, his parents and a man in a polo neck jumper standing in the Serbian snow berating the Australian Federal Government.
Whether these two ultimately win or lose in their respective judicial processes they’re already gone baby. Not because they’ve legally “lost” but because of how they’ve behaved and how they’ve behaved in the face of challenge. The Firm has already accepted this and Andrew, Prince of the Realm has relinquished the titles and trappings of entitlement. It would have been difficult sending him out to open kindergartens or mingle with the under twenties public.
And who would want to be within a kilometer of Djokovic, someone who believes its okay to be out and about in the community and in close contact with others with active Covd19? And what border force or government is not now going to want significant documentary proof of his travels and movements after his Australian form-filling “mistakes” and non-disclosures.
What do I know about Mr Andrew and Mr Novak and their current predicaments? Same as you – what I’ve read in the media. We’ll leave Mr Andrew for another day but as Mr Novak’s appeal against the decision of a Minister of the Australian Federal government is going to kick off at 11.30am New Zealand time this morning, we’ll have a look at what I’ve gleaned from the media’s explanation of his predicament.
In the world of tennis, he’s a prince. Mr D now aka “Novax” would generally be regarded as an “anti-vaxer” – someone who does not wish to be vaccinated against the Covid 19 virus and its variants.
When Novax and his entourage rocked on up to the Australian border it transpired that his unvaccinated status did not meet the Australian Federal Government legal requirements to permit entry. After some soul-searching the Australian Border Force declined to let him in and following their process shuttled him off to a designated hotel to await deportation. Even princes of tennis are not above the law.
Novax appealed this decision and was successful. Novax “won” on a point of law – that he had been denied the opportunity to respond to the ABF decision. Not because he met the criteria for entry but because the ABF officers did not delay their decision until Novax’s lawyers had woken up, had their croissants and espresso and got to the office. While his parents, tennis aficionados and Australian-living Serbs may have been delighted most probably this decision also went down like a cup of the cold stuff with the wider Australian and world community.
And the cold stuff got even colder when the Australian Federal Government started to unpick Novax’s documentation. It’s hard to regard as credible someone who “forgot” they weren’t continuously somewhere before they embarked for Australia. Someone who continued public and professional encounters after a “positive” test for Covid 19.
The Australian Federal Government signaled that, irrespective of the Court decision, they had the power to revoke Novax’s visa. That is probably the Australian way of formally telling you to “just fuck off”. But no, Novax stayed and played leaving the Federal Government no alternative but to make a determination against him which they have done. So the Prince of Tennis and his legal team filed a second appeal against the “silly” decision.
Whether the Australian Federal Government wins or loses this morning, like their ABF officers, I think the fundamental decisions to prevent Novak Djokovic from entering and remaining in Australia were and are clearly justified.
Governments have established entry requirements and border controls in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus and prevent their health and economic systems from collapsing – Australia is not unique.
In Australia the rules for entry to the country are established by the Australian Federal Government not Tennis Australia or the State of Victoria. The State of Victoria can establish rules for entry to that state territory and Tennis Australia can establish rules for entry to its competitions. Both of these sets of rules are under the umbrella of the Federal Government rules for entry to the country.
These are extreme times. Worldwide health systems are being overwhelmed. Economic systems are being challenged. Production and distribution systems for food and commonly accepted items are being disrupted. Citizen co-operation to minimize the spread of this disease is essential.
And at this time the Antipodes and the World do not need the privileged crusading zeal of Novak Djokovic. Like Prince Andrew, irrespective of today’s legal outcome, Djokovic as a human being and member of the world community is morally and ethically gone baby.
The above articles are available to read online. The ABC article includes a timeline of events.
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, Aotearoa, New Zealand.
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