Tuesday, January 18, 2022
HomeWorldHow Djokovic Spurred Debate on the Fairness of Border Policies

How Djokovic Spurred Debate on the Fairness of Border Policies

The Australia Letter is a weekly publication from our Australia bureau. Sign up to get it by e-mail.

A gradual trickle of passers-by stopped in entrance of the Park Hotel in Melbourne on Saturday, pausing to take images, learn the chalk writing scrawled on the constructing — “free them all” and “30 children locked inside here and tortured for 3,092 days” — or peer up, attempting to catch a glimpse of Novak Djokovic, the tennis star who had been detained inside.

Camped throughout the road, making ready to write down an article about how Mr. Djokovic’s state of affairs had drawn consideration to the plight of the refugees and asylum seekers held inside, I caught snippets of their conversations.

“Did you know they’ve been in there for nine years?” one girl exclaimed to her companion.”

“I never knew about this,” a person informed one of many dozen refugee advocates who have been protesting exterior the lodge.

This appears to be a standard theme over the previous week: shock domestically and overseas on the strict circumstances of Australia’s border management and detention system, which Mr. Djokovic’s visa and vaccination saga has thrown into the highlight.

This is the primary time that many people have been uncovered to the inside workings of a system the place you will be given 20 minutes to elucidate why your visa shouldn’t be canceled, with restricted authorized help, and to the big selection of powers held by the immigration minister to cancel visas at his discretion — an influence that has been referred to as “godlike” by some immigration consultants and even a former immigration minister.

The manner Mr. Djokovic was handled within the border management system was commonplace, mentioned Mary Anne Kenny, an affiliate regulation professor at Murdoch University, however “unlike a lot of other people who come through that system, he was able to get hold of a lawyer and challenge it.”

The immigration minister’s wide-ranging discretionary powers round visas have been initially meant for use in circumstances the place a strict and slender utility of the regulation may result in unfair outcomes, she mentioned. For instance, it may very well be used to grant visas to asylum seekers who didn’t technically fall underneath the definition of a refugee however had extenuating circumstances, comparable to being stateless.

But over time, she mentioned, successive immigration ministers of all political stripes have elevated the powers and used them for political ends, significantly up to now 20 years following the introduction of Australia’s hard-line border coverage towards asylum seekers arriving by sea.

“We probably have some of the strictest border controls and detention regime of any country on the planet,” mentioned Abul Rizvi, a former deputy secretary of the division of immigration.

But on the similar time, he added, we’re a nation of immigrants, with over 30 p.c of Australians born abroad — a a lot greater share than different international locations just like the United States and Canada. “It’s an odd dichotomy,” he mentioned.

Australia depends on backpackers and Pacific islands laborers for a lot of our seasonal farm work drive and momentary visa holders to fill jobs in sectors like hospitality, development and well being care. But the nation usually will get criticism for its remedy of asylum seekers — beforehand inserting them on distant islands like Manus and Nauru, and now in detention accommodations.

On Saturday, some observers exterior the Park Hotel, like Bobby Tomasevic, 55, have been desirous about equity — each for Mr. Djokovic and for the asylum seekers and refugees locked inside.

“It gives you a sour feeling,” he mentioned. “It doesn’t have to be like this.”

Now for our tales of the week.

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments