Topics: Cancellation by the Australian Border Force of Novak Djokovic’s visa.
SARAH ABO: Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews joins us now from quarantine on the Gold Coast. Good morning to you, Minister. This has been an absolute debacle. It’s made global headlines. It is quite embarrassing for Australia. Why was Djokovic ever granted a visa in the first place?
KAREN ANDREWS: To enter Australia you actually need two things. You need a valid visa, which is a very separate process, and then you need to meet our entry requirements. So a visa was granted for Australia – that does not guarantee entry. He – along with any other individual who is seeking to enter Australia – also has to meet the entry requirements, which include, at this point, medical evidence of vaccination or, alternatively, medical evidence that for medical reasons that individual cannot be vaccinated.
CHARLES CROUCHER: So specifically, he hasn’t met those medical reasons why he couldn’t be vaccinated?
KAREN ANDREWS: He hasn’t met the entry requirements. I know there’s a lot of chatter about the visa. The visa – in my understanding – is not the issue. It is the entry requirements, and the Australian Border Force has actually been very clear – it’s the fact that he was not able to meet the requirements to provide the evidence that he needed for entering into Australia.
SARAH ABO: Minister, you knew Djokovic was coming to Australia for the Australian Open. Shouldn’t the Government have been prepared for this? Shouldn’t there have been a modification made to the visa, perhaps just for this instance, given how high profile this case is?
KAREN ANDREWS: It was the entry requirements. Every single person who comes into Australia has to prove that they have been vaccinated or prove they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. That is one of the entry requirements here. It’s entirely separate to the visa.
CHARLES CROUCHER: This obviously is the highest profile tennis player in the world at the moment. There are others who have made the same application who appear to have got into Melbourne. Are you now looking at their entry and has there been any changes to their status?
KAREN ANDREWS: Absolutely. The Australian Border Force is investigating that now, they have been for at least the last 24 hours, to my knowledge. So I’ll be briefed further on that, potentially today but maybe later. Border Force will actually complete its investigations, and then I will be briefed.
CHARLES CROUCHER: So why weren’t the same checks made at the border that was made with Novak Djokovic?
KAREN ANDREWS: We have a multilayered approach; it includes the completion of the Australia Travel Declaration; it includes checks when you come into Australia. But we do have intelligence now that indicates there are some other individuals here that have not met the entry requirements, and another part of our approach is that we will investigate that.
SARAH ABO: Minister, can you tell us how many others have been refused entry into Australia after coming in a similar situation?
KAREN ANDREWS: I don’t have those statistics at the moment, but look, what is happening now is something that happens every single day. As people come into Australia, they need to have met our entry requirements as well as having a visa. They understand the risk – when they come in – that if they don’t have the proper documentation, they will be stopped at the border and they will go through exactly the same process that is being played out now.
SARAH ABO: Okay, Minister, we thank you for your time.
KAREN ANDREWS: Thank you.