Topics: Cancellation by the Australian Border Force of Novak Djokovic’s visa.
EDWINA BARTHOLOMEW: Joining me now is Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews. Good morning to you Minister. Can you explain to us what the extract technicality was with Djokovic’s paperwork and why couldn’t it be resolved before he actually arrived here?
KAREN ANDREWS: The issue for one who enters Australia is that they do need a valid visa. But importantly – and it’s very important in this case – they also need to meet entry requirements. Now, one of those requirements is that you have to have proof that you are vaccinated against COVID. If you can’t prove that you have been vaccinated, you have to provide proof that you cannot be vaccinated because of a medical reason. That was the information that was required at the point of entry into this country. It’s required of anyone who is entering this country. If that information cannot be provided then entry requirements to Australia have not been met.
EDWINA BARTHOLOMEW: So this was articulated in a letter from the Health Minister Greg Hunt to Tennis Australia at the end of last year. So who is fault is this? Is it paperwork on their end or is it a miscommunication from our end or from Tennis Australia?
KAREN ANDREWS: Ultimately every traveller has the responsibility to ensure they are meeting the requirements of entry to this country and potentially any country around the world. So it is up to the individual traveller. Clearly they get advice, but in this case there were multiple opportunities for advice to be sought. You’ve seen and you’ve just referred to the correspondence that has been made public, but information is also freely available on the Home Affairs website.
EDWINA BARTHOLOMEW: So this has now turned into an international incident. We’re hearing that the Serbian Prime Minister spoke to “a woman” in Home Affairs who’s in charge – we’re presuming that is you, Minister. What was that conversation? What did that conversation contain?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, I wasn’t “that woman”. So I don’t know who he spoke to.
EDWINA BARTHOLOMEW: How are you going to deal with the political fallout of this now? Because it is an international incident.
KAREN ANDREWS: I’ll focus on my job – and my job is to make sure that the security of Australian borders are maintained. That has been my one and only focus throughout this, and it is what I have been focused on since the day I became appointed to this role.
EDWINA BARTHOLOMEW: So we’re also hearing, Minister, there are more international players and support staff in the same boat and that Border Force are looking at their paperwork. What actions are you expecting to be taken there?
KAREN ANDREWS: Yes, that is true. I can certainly confirm that the Australian Border Force is actually conducting its inquiries now and investigating some terms of entries for some other people as well. They will continue their investigations, and when that’s finalised I’m sure I will be briefed. But what I am confident about is that Australian Border Force will, of course, take the appropriate action.
EDWINA BARTHOLOMEW: So how many people does that affect, and why weren’t they stopped at the border if their paperwork wasn’t up to scratch?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, I’m aware that there’s two individuals that are currently being investigated by Australian Border Force. We have a multi-relayed approach to access this country. It starts with the check-in process at an airport; it continues through entry at our border – and that is clearly being played out – it continues beyond that. So if Australian Border Force – through any channel – becomes aware that there is an issue, then they will continue to investigate and make sure that Australia’s entry requirements are maintained.
EDWINA BARTHOLOMEW: There have been complaints from the Serbian government about the treatment that Novak Djokovic has received inside the hotel. We might add that there are refugees that have been living in these conditions for over a year in some cases. Minister what about the calls to move him out of there to a facility with his team and with access to a tennis court? Will that be allowed before he makes his next court appearance on Monday?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, I think that we’ve always been clear that Mr Djokovic will actually be treated the same as everyone else who is in similar circumstances here in Australia.
EDWINA BARTHOLOMEW: All right. Thank you so much for your time. Lots on today, no doubt, for you Minister. Thank you for joining us here on Sunrise.
KAREN ANDREWS: Thank you.