Australia cancelled Novak Djokovic’s visa for a second time Friday in a sensational new attempt to deport the unvaccinated tennis superstar.
The country’s conservative government defeated once in the courts, invoked extraordinary executive powers to again rip up the 34-year-old Serbian’s visa on public interest grounds.
The move came just three days before the Australian Open starts, putting Djokovic’s dream of a record 21st Grand Slam in serious doubt.
Djokovic, an avowed Covid-19 vaccine sceptic, is the tournament’s top seed and had been practising on the Melbourne Park courts just hours before Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s bombshell decision was announced.
The government is “firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Hawke said in a statement.
He cited “health and good order grounds” for the decision and said “it was in the public interest to do so”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed the decision: “Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected.”
The visa cancellation effectively means the world’s number one tennis player would be barred from obtaining a new Australian visa for three years, except under exceptional circumstances.
But at an emergency court hearing late Friday, the tennis ace challenged the decision.
Djokovic’s lawyer Nick Wood requested an injunction against his removal and appealed for him to be allowed to remain out of immigration detention as the case proceeds.
“We are very concerned about time,” Wood said, arguing that the government’s decision was marked by “irrationality.”
In Belgrade, Djokovic’s compatriots reacted with shock to the news.
“To say that a high-level sportsman like Novak is a danger to the health of Australians is just absurd, it’s a scandal,” said 28-year-old local government employee Petar Stojanovic.
The megastar flew into Melbourne airport on January 5 claiming a vaccine exemption because of a positive PCR test result on December 16.
Border agents rejected his exemption, revoked his visa and placed him in a notorious Melbourne detention centre where he spent four nights.
The Australian government insists a recent infection does not qualify as a vaccine exemption for foreign nationals trying to enter the country.
Djokovic’s top-flight legal team overturned the visa decision in the federal circuit court on Monday because border officials at the airport had failed to give him the agreed time to respond.
Djokovic’s vaccine waiver provoked outrage among many Australians who have endured nearly two years of some of the toughest coronavirus restrictions in the world.
Some tennis players say Djokovic should now be allowed to play, but not all have been supportive.
World number four Stefanos Tsitsipas criticised his behaviour.
“For sure he has been playing by his own rules,” Tsitsipas said in an interview with Indian broadcaster WION.
Nearly everyone in the Australian Open had been vaccinated, Tsitsipas said. But others “chose to follow their own way which kind of makes the majority look like they’re all fools”.
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BREAKING: APC Convention To Hold February 26, Says Buni
The All Progressives Congress (APC) Caretaker Committee Chairman Mai Mala Buni has announced February 26 as the date for the APC convention.
Buni, who is also the governor of Yobe State, said this on Tuesday at the national progressive women conference 2022 holding at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Abuja.
He said the party is counting on the support of women to hold a successful convention.
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Lagos Transporters To Pay ₦800 Daily Levy, Excluding RTEAN, NURTW Dues
…Effective From February 1
Lagos State government, on Tuesday, introduced a daily ₦800 consolidated informal transport levy for transporters in the state.
The levy is outside the union dues collected by the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN).
Lagos State finance commissioner, Dr Rabiu Olowo, who revealed this at the agreement-signing ceremony by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), local councils and transport unions, said that the consolidated levy collection will start February 1.
He stated that the harmonized levy became expedient to ensure that the transport sector in the state is organised and fits into a 21st-century economy.
Olowo added that the consolidated levy takes into consideration all the elements in a sane society.
According to him, the levy takes care of dues previously accrued to local councils across the state, as well as revenue for Lagos Waste Management Authority (LASWA) and Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), Lagos State Inland Revenue Service (LIRS) among other MDAs.
He said that the state government expects that once a transporter pays the ₦800 at a point, he or she is expected not to pay at any other park or bus stop throughout the day.
He also said that the government expects that union members will not collect levies from transporters as they are not expected to pay at every bus stop or park.
Olowo said the consolidated levy would reduce the multiplicity of levies collection as many residents and transporters have complained about the huge levies unions often collected.
The commissioner also made an allusion to a report about the ₦150bn that transport unions collect in Lagos under the disguise of collecting dues, saying the new development will eliminate multiple taxes.
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House Of Reps To Reintroduce Electoral Act Amendment Bill Wednesday
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has disclosed that the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which was rejected by President Muhammadu Buhari, will be reintroduced Wednesday for a rework by the lawmakers.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in December rejected the Bill, citing issues with direct primary provisions.
Gbajabiamila, in his welcome address at the resumption of plenary Tuesday while chiding the appalling argument that lack of proper membership registration of the political parties was among the reasons why the Bill should be rejected, however stated that a credible electoral law is what the people want and that is what they will get.
He also assured Nigerians that the lawmakers will prioritize action to pass the constitutional amendment bill.
Thereafter, the lawmakers went into a close door session.
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