Immigration Minister Alex Hawke needed to be satisfied of the potential risk to the “health, safety or good order” of the community in order to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa, the Federal Court says.
A three-judge panel of the court has published the full reasons why it ruled unanimously against the world tennis No.1 to have his visa reinstated.
“It is not the fact of Mr Djokovic being a risk to the health, safety or good order of the Australian community; rather it is whether the minister was satisfied that his presence is or may be or would or might be such a risk for the purposes of (the Migration Act),” Chief Justice James Allsopp, Justice Anthony Besanko and Justice David O’Callaghan said.
“The satisfaction of the minister is not an unreviewable personal state of mind. The law is clear as to what is required.
“If, upon review by a court, the satisfaction is found to have been reached unreasonably or was not capable of having been reached on proper material or lawful grounds, it will be taken not to be a lawful satisfaction for the purpose of the statute.”
The court also explained that the matter involved an application for judicial review. This involves the judicial branch of government reviewing, by reference to legality or lawfulness, the decision of the executive branch of government.
The court, the judges said, does not consider the merits or wisdom of the decision. Nor does it remake the decision.
“The task of the court is to rule upon the lawfulness or legality of the decision by reference to the complaints made about it,” they said.
Djokovic had been set to launch the defence of his Australian Open title in the competition’s opening round on Monday, but was instead deported to Serbia.
The 34-year-old may also face a three-year ban on re-entering the country.
He’s also been ordered to pay the federal government’s legal costs.
Djokovic said in a statement that he was extremely disappointed with the court’s decision to dismiss his application but that he respected its ruling.
“I will co-operate with the relevant authorities in relation to my departure from the country,” he said.
He vowed to take time to rest and recuperate before making further comments.
The ruling ended an extraordinary saga that had the court sit for five hours on Sunday during its summer holiday, a highly unusual event that reflected the urgency and high stakes of the case.
Djokovic brought the case after his visa was cancelled for a second time on Friday afternoon
The Immigration Minister cited a risk to public health and the chance that the unvaccinated Djokovic’s presence in Australia could excite anti-vaccination sentiment.
Djokovic’s visa had earlier been cancelled on the basis that he didn’t have an exemption from the requirement to be vaccinated.
That decision was revoked and the visa reinstated earlier last week.