The argument of the Federal Government in the Novak Djokovic case sets a dangerous precedent in a democratic society, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).
“Our key concern was not whether Mr Djokovic was able to play tennis this week. Our concern is the Federal Government’s view that it did not have to prove that Mr Djokovic would foster views about vaccination that are contrary to the government, but simply that he may foster those sentiments,” said Mr Greg Barns SC, spokesperson for the ALA.
“This is a very low bar for excluding a person from Australia particularly in circumstances where the power to review or appeal the decision is so limited.
“Using the criteria of a possible risk to public order as a reason to refuse a person entry into the country is troubling in a society supposedly committed to freedom of speech and freedom of thought.
“The Federal Government’s attitude could see other high-profile visitors to Australia refused entry in an attempt to suppress alternate views. If, for example, a high-profile visitor to Australia expressed negative views about the Australia and USA alliance would the Government ban this person because this view may encourage people to protest at Pine Gap?
“This government’s obsession with harsh border policies combined with its arbitrary approach to visa cancellation and detention has created a debacle this week but, more importantly, risks setting a very dangerous precedent.”