Topics: Departure from Australia of Mr Novak Djokovic.
ALLISON LANGDON: Let’s bring in Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews who joins us now from the Gold Coast. Good morning to you, Minister. You must be glad that this is over and done with?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I think many Australians are happy that it’s all over and they can get on with what they need to do, and they can focus on the Australian Open, so yes, absolutely.
KARL STEFANOVIC: What would you have done differently if you had your time again?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look that’s actually a very good question. I’ve spoken previously about how we have a multilayered approach to border entry in Australia. We saw that work reasonably well. I’ve acknowledged there were some issues around the timing of the interview process. Clearly, we’ll look at that, but let’s all be mindful that this is just one individual case that we are dealing with. So, we’ll obviously have a look at what happened at the border, what happened in that process, and I’ve already said that, but I think at the end of the day, the decision that was made by Minister Hawke that was upheld by the Federal Court has given everyone the relief that they need at this point in time.
ALLISON LANGDON: That is the drama; he was given a visa. He came here believing that he was going to be allowed into the country and that does fall on you and your government.
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, a couple of things that I would say to that. Firstly, anyone coming into Australia, it’s their responsibility to make sure that they are meeting the entry requirements; and, secondly, the visa application processing and at granting of a visa, they’re actually quite separate to the ultimate entry into Australia. Just because you have a valid visa doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to enter Australia. You also have to meet the entry requirements, and that was the issue that Border Force was dealing with at the border.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Before he lobbed into the country, did you know that he’d been granted visa?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, there was some media reporting. I saw the Instagram, I think it was Instagram, post that was put up. That certainly alerted me to the fact that his arrival was potentially imminent but Border Force and the Department of Home Affairs was already aware of that and were working on it-
KARL STEFANOVIC: But it couldn’t have been stopped at that point?
KAREN ANDREWS: There’s a number of issues that we had to deal with. At uplift, there is a time that you can say, “well, if the individual doesn’t have the appropriate documentation, then they shouldn’t be uplifted. But what was given to Mr Djokovic was the opportunity on arrival in Australia – so before he’d actually cleared our immigration processes – to be able to produce the documentation that was needed that would have facilitated his entry, and he was unable to do that.
ALLISON LANGDON: But if you knew that he was on his way, you also knew that he wasn’t vaccinated, you knew then that it was going to be a big storm, an international media storm when he arrived. Why not jump in and do something about it before all of that happened?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, we were obviously aware he had a very high profile, but we do have strong processes that are in place and people are given the opportunity to provide additional information and that opportunity was given to him at the airport on his arrival, and he didn’t have the necessary documentation. He couldn’t provide additional information, but he was given that opportunity. I think that’s an important part of our process. He was given the opportunity to provide more information and he couldn’t.
KARL STEFANOVIC: Okay, so will you be denying now any future anti‑vaxxer from coming into the country?
KAREN ANDREWS: The issue was the proper documentation at the border. I know that a lot has happened, but the issue that he was stopped at the border for was the fact that he hadn’t been fully vaccinated, which is a requirement, and if you haven’t been fully vaccinated, you have to be able to provide medical evidence to support the fact that there is a medical reason why you can’t be vaccinated. That was the issue at the border. He wasn’t vaccinated and he couldn’t provide evidence that there was a medical reason that he could not be vaccinated.
ALLISON LANGDON: So will he be banned for the next three years?
KAREN ANDREWS: That’s the outcome of the process that went before the Federal Court and their determination, with the visa was cancelled by Minister Hawke. That cancellation was upheld by the Federal Court, so as a result of that, he will be banned from entry for three years into the country. Now, there are some compelling reasons that that may be able to be looked at, but that’s all hypothetical at this point. Any application will be reviewed on its merits.
KARL STEFANOVIC: You’ve upset the President of Serbia. He says, well he’s accused, the Australian Government of torturing Novak Djokovic. How do you respond to those accusations?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well it’s very clear that Australia has not tortured Mr Djokovic. It’s absolutely predictable that the Serbian President and their Government officials would be doing all that they can in the best interests of Serbia and their citizens, just like you would expect Prime Minister Morrison to be doing everything he can to protect Australians. So, it’s entirely predictable that the Serbian President would take the position that he has, but our Prime Minister has also demonstrated very clearly how strong our border protection policies actually are and how determined we are as a Government to uphold them.
ALLISON LANGDON: All right, Minister, thank you for your time this morning. We appreciate it.