Novak Djokovic COVID: Djokovic saga upends traditional politics – The Australian Financial Review

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Pauline Hanson said it would be a mistake for Djokovic to be deported while Labor has used the saga to question the government on border security.
Political prisoner or unvaxxed menace to society? Your views on Novak Djokovic might depend on if you are running for election.
If politics can make for strange bedfellows, the saga involving the Serbian superstar has upended some of the usual political stances.
While Scott Morrison has embraced the orthodox Coalition position – ‘We decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come’ – the right-wing fringe has seized upon Djokovic’s plight to make him a martyr.
Pauline Hanson, who normally rails against illegal arrivals, said it would be a mistake for Djokovic to be deported after the court ruled in his favour.
“Djokovic has been tested for it, and he hasn’t got the COVID. He is not a threat to our health,” she told 2SM on Tuesday.
Even international political huckster Nigel Farage, who previously lavished praise on Australia’s “tough” immigration laws to make the case for Brexit, has got in on the act, lambasting Australia as a “banana republic”.
British tennis player Andy Murray punctured Farage’s pomposity, retweeting a sympathetic interview Farage had done with Djokovic’s family with the comment:
“Please record the awkward moment when you tell them you’ve spent most of your career campaigning to have people from Eastern Europe deported.”
Closer to home, conservative government MPs already railing against vaccine mandates and public health measures are taking Djokovic’s side instead of Morrison’s.
Senator Gerard Rennick directly took on the idea Djokovic was Morrison’s “Tampa moment”, saying “We’re not going to have boatloads of tennis players emigrating to Australia after this”.
Labor, which has been spooked since Tampa about allowing itself to be boxed in as weak on border protection, has used the fiasco to attack the government’s security credentials.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese – who six years ago voted against boat turnbacks at a Labor conference – said last week Djokovic should not be allowed in the country.
“It makes no sense to me, when Australians are making extraordinary sacrifices, to see an elite tennis player allowed to participate in the system,” he said.
Home Affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said: “Now we have a circumstance where Australians really have to question whether or not they can trust the Morrison government to enforce the rules at the border.”
Bold call, given memories of Labor’s failure over boat people when last in government.
In what is perhaps more proof of the political horseshoe theory, the Greens and refugee activists are also unlikely defenders of the rights of a pampered multimillionaire tennis star.
They argue the case has exposed globally the “cruelty” of Australia’s immigration regime, and arbitrary detention is never justified, whether it be Djokovic or asylum seekers.
Such has been the twisting of political thinking through the fixation on COVID zero that those on political left who backed Daniel Andrews’ hard lockdowns would now be cheering on Morrison to kick Djokovic out.
But for some conservatives, it seems border security can go too far. And while often disdainful of international opinion, now find themselves lamenting the trashing of Australia’s global reputation.
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