Topics: Cancellation by the Australian Border Force of Novak Djokovic’s visa.
STEVE MARTIN: Karen Andrews is the Home Affairs Minister and is our guest this afternoon. Minister. Good afternoon.
KAREN ANDREWS: Hello, Steve. How are you?
STEVE MARTIN: Very well. The issue with Novak Djokovic just broadly, right decision made by Border Force? Do you believe that the way this all played out from last night until this morning, we’ll get to this afternoon in a minute. Was it the right decision that was made?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, clearly Border Force had a series of issues before them that they need to deal with. They understand very clearly what is required for entry into Australia. That is a valid visa, and then there are specific entry requirements that apply at this point in time. That includes the PCR negative test three days before uplift; it includes the completion of an Australia Travel Declaration; and it includes the requirement for the traveller to be fully vaccinated. But if they are not fully vaccinated, the traveller has to provide an acceptable proof that says very clearly that they cannot be vaccinated because of medical reasons. That is the information that Border Force looks for. So if that information is not forthcoming, if it’s not available, then Border Force is in the position of determining that individual does not meet the requirements for entry to Australia. So that is the action that I have been clearly advised that Border Force took last night. That is the appropriate action that they need to be taking. Our position is very clear and we have set out very clearly what the requirements are to enter Australia. I understand there’s a lot of confusion out there and there’s a lot of views that are being put forward in relation to visas – that is absolutely a Commonwealth responsibility, but it is a very separate process to the entry requirements to come into Australia. So first step in the process is a valid visa. Once a traveller has a valid visa, then they have to comply with specific entry requirements and I’ve gone through what those are. So it’s two processes that have to be gone through.
STEVE MARTIN: Okay, can you just clarify for me, was the visa that Novak Djokovic had applied for and had been granted, or was he in the process of trying to get was that the right visa or the wrong visa? There’s a lot of speculation about that this morning.
KAREN ANDREWS: I have not been briefed that there was an issue in relation to the visa. It was in relation to the entry requirements.
STEVE MARTIN: Did he have an exemption at all? Because the Prime Minister is quoted today as saying, ‘I’m advised that such an exemption was not in place.’ So did he have anything?
KAREN ANDREWS: There was no exemption; and let’s be clear about this, an exemption purported to be given by the Victorian state government – or any state government for that matter – but let’s go with Victoria, an exemption for tennis to be played in Victoria is not the same as an exemption for an entry requirement into Australia. It’s entirely different. So the Victorian government is at liberty to do what it needs to do, and what it wants to do, in terms of who can play a sport in that state. But in terms of entry requirements into Australia, that is a Federal Government responsibility and we have been very clear on what is required. The Victorian Government can’t give an exemption for entering into Australia, nor can any other organisation – that is purely the responsibility of the Federal Government.
STEVE MARTIN: Do the State and Federal Government’s need to streamline their systems with entry into Australia? Because it sounds like there are different expectations on a state and a Federal level. After all this time, the two are still not in sync. So do you need to all sit down and sort something out?
KAREN ANDREWS: No, it’s very clear who has responsibility for who comes into Australia and that is the Federal Government and the states clearly understand that.
STEVE MARTIN: Novak Djokovic has appealed to the Federal Circuit Court. The hearing began this afternoon. I think around 4pm. It’s just been adjourned until after around 6pm. Do you have any thoughts on that part of the process, given the way this has played out so publicly?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, there was speculation earlier today that there would be an application made to the courts. Clearly that’s playing out now, and Mr Djokovic is at liberty to do that. That is a process that is going to play out now. Clearly, as the matter is before the courts, there is no comments that I can give in relation to that, and the proceedings will take their course.
STEVE MARTIN: Given the high profile nature of Novak Djokovic, and given the world reaction to this, is our reputation being damaged?
KAREN ANDREWS: No, I don’t believe that it has. Simply because the Federal Government, Coalition Government, the Morrison Government has always been very clear that we stand for strong borders and we have always made it very clear what the requirements are to enter this country. Now, as you’ve heard the Prime Minister say earlier today – on two occasions there was correspondence that went A, from the Health Department and B, from the Health Minister in relation to what the requirements were and that correspondence went to Tennis Australia. So it was very clearly set out in those now publicly available documents that specific entry requirements would need to be met.
STEVE MARTIN: Minister, we’ve got news coming up. Thank you for your time.
KAREN ANDREWS: It’s a pleasure. Take care.