The government's handling of Djoker truly is a big, hypocritical joke

The government’s handling of Djoker truly is a big, hypocritical joke


Men’s world tennis no. 1 Novak Djokovic is officially en route back to Belgrade, sensationally ruled out from playing in the Australian Open set to commence tonight.

It follows a decision handed down by the Australian Federal Court late yesterday afternoon backing Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s (subsequent) call to deport Djokovic from Australia “on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so”.

Djokovic was taken back to a detention hotel on Saturday after Hawke declared the tennis star’s opposition to getting the jab “may foster anti-vaccination sentiment” and cause “civil unrest”.

The world erupted to the news overnight with thousands criticising the Australian government’s handling of the debacle and for not having a hard no-vax, no-play policy in place from the outset.

Tennis commentator David Law said: “It could have been so simple. 1) Get vaccinated, Novak, like 97 of the other Top 100. 2) Have a rule that says you get vaccinated or you don’t play (unless your reason is so acute, and so beyond doubt that nobody sensible can dispute it).”

Others were less nuanced. French tennis writer Carole Bouchard slammed the government’s conduct as “an utter disgrace”.

“The way Djokovic has been treated since winning the first appeal is an utter disgrace,” she tweeted.

“He is not a threat to Australia. He didn’t come here to excite any unvaxxed movement whatsoever. They perfectly know it.

“Yet after a week of not being able to ensure they’d win on the basis of this exemption administrative mess, and also to avoid having to again say that yes the Australian authorities had created that process, they pick a procedure where you don’t even have to bring evidence of what you’re accusing the person of.

“He’s being deported for a sentiment he might create in others.

“The extremities they’ve gone to avoid losing face are shocking. But for a gov that has prevented its own people from returning to their country during a freaking pandemic, I guess nothing should be surprising anymore.

“Unreal twisting of the law here. Unreal treatment inflicted to their 9 time champion after all he did for the event and the city. Shameful. Dark ages all around.”

The situation is shameful, Bouchard is right. But from my mind, the real shame is our government’s hypocrisy in suddenly having such a strong position on this matter.

For months– years even– Australians have pled for a decisive, united stance from our government on the pandemic; including vaccines, restrictions and processes. What we have been offered instead? A hot mess of hypocrisy, mixed messages and incompetent leaders who have peddled every lie in their power to destabilise national solidarity.

How can the government sit smugly today purporting to show true concern for burgeoning anti-vax sentiment in the community when it has real-time leaders in its mix fuelling every conspiracy in the idiot’s handbook?

George Christensen, a man hardwired to create discord, is seemingly invincible. Despite publicly advocating for civil unrest and likening Australia’s COVID-19 health measures to Auschwitz and the Tiananmen Square massacre, he has been defended time and again by the PM, Deputy and other senior leaders over his right to “free speech”.

Queensland LNP Senator, Gerard Rennick meanwhile, has grown his social footprint exponentially in recent months through his relentless questioning over the safety of booster shots and his claim that public health authorities exhibit a “callous attitude towards the safety of Australians”.

While Nationals Senator Matt Canavan– who seems to have his face plastered to every commercial breakfast television show in the country– regularly repeats his opinion that conspiracy theories spouted by his colleagues are fair and just.

Oh, and like we’d forget former Liberal MP Craig Kelly’s expert contribution to the bile-a-thon. The bloke was even banned from Facebook due to Covid-19 misinformation before illegally trolling Australians through text messages as a candidate for UAP.

Throughout this fraught two years, the government has not only backed up its own stable of COVID conspiracy theorists (see above) but also enabled genuine, alt-right inciters of unrest into the country.

Katie Hopkins, a loud and proud COVID denier, was let into the country as a member of Channel Ten’s Big Brother program in July 2021. She was only deported, after posting a public video describing Australia’s lockdowns as “the greatest hoax in human history” while joking about elaborate plans to breach quarantine rules including endangering innocent hotel personnel.

The list goes on and on.

My point is this: Djokovic’s refusal to be jabbed is a decision I don’t agree with, but to clutch at some tenuous theory that he was here to incite anti-vax sentiment is ludicrous. He was here to play tennis, with a visa approved by our government. His deportation has nothing to do with protecting the interests of the public and everything to do with a rapidly emerging election, and the government’s belief that this is a clever card to play.

It’s exactly the kind of hollow, confected leadership we’ve come to expect.

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