Novak Djokovic, Freedom Fighter?

Novak Djokovic, Freedom Fighter? By Morgan Begg.

The only reason the Federal Court landed on the side of the Serb is because his case was too obvious. Djokovic complied with every rule for entering the country as he understood it, and the federal government acted unreasonably and in a persecutorial manner by detaining him and cancelling his visa. It was a lawless act motivated by political expediency and carried out by a rudderless political class that was given its well-deserved comeuppance by the court.

Previous legal challenges that have asked the courts to make value judgments about the proportionality of Covid measures have revealed the judiciary’s general unwillingness to step in. The courts have granted bureaucrats and ministers enormous discretion to define what counts as a “reasonable” use of public-health-emergency powers — effectively allowing bureaucrats to define the limits of their own power.

It is hard to say to what extent the court has fed the arrogance of the political class and its readiness to take advantage of pandemic powers, but it surely has not helped. If at any point some limitations had been applied to the use of public-health powers, then perhaps those powers would not have been so abused.

Perhaps Zoe Buhler, pregnant mother, would not have been forcefully handcuffed and arrested in her house for the alleged crime of inciting non-compliance with public-health regulations after she posted about a protest on Facebook.

Perhaps protesters, who were attacked and silenced with rhetoric and force, would have been treated the same as Black Lives Matters protesters, who were given free rein to march through Melbourne in the winter of 2020 with the endorsement of senior police officials. …

Perhaps the illogical decision to impose vaccine mandates on workers too would have been scrutinized. In Australia’s largest state, New South Wales, the government is asking vaccinated-but-infected health-sector workers to return to work to address a staff shortage, while workers who are unvaccinated but not sick remain out of work.

Perhaps if politicians had not been given carte blanche to issue innumerable draconian measures that treated Australians not as citizens but as subjects of a biomedical security state, then the federal government would not have been served this humiliation now.

The Djokovic saga reveals the moral compass of many Australians has been turned on its head. Many reacted to the news that Djokovic had been allowed into the country with anger, something that would have been preposterous prior to March 2020. But this is now the default setting of a populace which has been gaslit into believing in equality of misery and shared oppression.

Instead of being angered by rule-makers issuing farcical regulations, many turn their anger on the non-compliant. Even if, like Djokovic, people are compliant with the letter of the rules, the many still count them as non-compliant with the rules’ repressive spirit, and bristle. “If I have to get vaccinated to keep my job,” they say, “then so should everyone else.”

It doesn’t help that official opposition to these regimes continue to be ineffectual. Federally, the left-of-center Labor party promises only harsher Covid rulemaking. But in the state of Victoria, which is hosting the Australian Open, the nominally right-of-center opposition leader Matthew Guy argued that, “if there are kids being booted off junior footy [referring to the sport of Australian Rules Football] because they’re not vaccinated, well why then at a state government facility…are we inviting major tennis players who are not vaccinated?”

A better question would be whether young football players should have so much less freedom than adult tennis players. That Australians have generally not heard this argument from their elected representatives is indicative of a public-health egalitarianism that asserts, in a scenario where one person has more or less freedom than another, that all freedom should be taken away.

The Australian Immigration minister has still not decided whether or not to use his ministerial privilege to kick Djokovic out of Australia.

Perhaps the long delay is the Government’s way of displaying its displeasure, while implicitly acknowledging that the man’s not a health threat and he followed the rules — so he can stay and compete.

UPDATE: The Australian immigration minister decided to revoke his visa. Is Djokovic a health risk to anyone? Did anyone measure his antibodies? Give him a PCR test? The bureaucrats should never have given him a visa to come in the first place. If a rule is a rule, then what about the rule that he has a valid visa and did everything expected of him — as the court said.

Any claim that it was because Djokovic filled in forms wrongly just becomes a case of selective enforcement. Are they going to check all the other tennis players and hold them to the same standard? Of course not. Unfair. And terrible optics — Australia will lose standing in the eyes of the world over this.

hat-tip Stephen Neil