As I’ve written many times, Australia is bedeviled by two Scott Morrisons. There’s Scott Morrison the international statesman who has won recognition around the world for his principled stance against China. Then there’s Scotty from Marketing, a gutless dog on domestic politics, continually waved back and forth by the tail of the media-Twitter class.
But with the Novak Djokovic circus, Scotty from Marketing has blown Scott Morrison out of the water.
With Djokovic’s court win, the government immediately faced an invidious choice – accept its humiliation or launch a fresh, hairy-chested offensive.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has the power to move, under his ministerial discretion, to cancel the now-restored visa.
On Monday night, a spokesman for Hawke said: “The minister is currently considering the matter and the process remains ongoing”.
Surely, it would have been better for the government to just cut its losses at once. The speaker of Serbia’s parliament, Ivica Dacic, made some sense in saying “the process should have ended when the court ruled”.
Thanks a lot, Scotty: now, you’ve got me agreeing with Michelle Grattan.
Looked at rationally, it is near impossible to understand why the government chose to get itself into this mess. Or why it left things hanging after the court decision […]
The federal and Victorian governments, Tennis Australia, Border Force and Djokovic himself all share responsibility for this inglorious episode, which has been laced with confusion.
Assuming Djokovic arrived on a sincere misapprehension, the sensible course would have been for the government to have found a way through rather than resorting to its heavy-handedness at the border.
This has made Australia look like hicksville, and been bad for the reputation of the Australian Open.The Age
Make no mistake, the episode is getting noticed around the world every bit as much as Morrison’s China resistance — but for all the opposite reasons. Standing up to Xi Xinping showed Australia as a middle power that was nonetheless able to call the bluff of the global bully. Persecuting the world’s No. 1 tennis player has made us look like a banana republic of fools.
It’s not just the Serbian government noticing — Prime Minister Ana Brnabic personally telephoned Morrison following the court decision — even Nigel Farage has weighed in on the affair, with a characteristically astute observation.
“I mean, is Australia a country based on the rule of law, or is it a country where governments can exercise arbitrary power?” Mr Farage said. “If that judgement this morning is overruled, what’s the difference between Australia and a banana republic?”
He added Australian authorities had employed “nasty tactics” against Mr Djokovic, and described judge Anthony Kelly’s decision as “the first really big victory” against “the big state, which has grown so much over the past two years of the pandemic.”The Australian
Which, I suspect, is exactly what they’re afraid of.