Minister Alex Hawke: The man who makes Djokovic fidget

Dhe fate of tennis world number one Novak Djokovic is currently in the hands of a single man – at least as far as the 34-year-old’s participation in the Australian Open is concerned. Thanks to the so-called “Biosecurity Act”, Alex Hawke, Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship since the end of 2020, alone has the right to decide whether the unvaccinated Serbian tennis professional’s visa should be revoked. According to the law, Hawke should do so if he classifies Djokovic’s stay in Melbourne as a threat to the country’s public health.

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Who is the man who makes Djokovic and his fans fidget like that? The 44-year-old belongs to the conservative center-right “Liberal Party” and is not without controversy because of his own sometimes highly conservative views. The avowed Christian Hawke is a declared opponent of gay marriage. When parliament legalized same-sex marriages in 2017, he is said to have abstained. He later campaigned to exclude homosexual and bisexual students from teaching in religious schools. He has also stressed several times that it is not the government’s job to combat climate change.

The politician, who was born in Wollongong on the east coast and studied government and public work in Sydney, also served in the military for several years. He has been married for the second time since 2013. He has four children and is considered a close confidante of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, with whom he is reportedly attending the same Bible study group. Hawke has been a member of the Australian Parliament since 2007. Prior to becoming Minister of Immigration, he served as Minister for International Development and the Pacific and Vice Secretary of Defense.

Also on Thursday, the minister was still a long time coming with his decision. Djokovic was refused entry last week because he was not vaccinated against the coronavirus and the documentation of his medical exemption was insufficient for the authorities. A court overturned this decision on Monday – but Alex Hawke has the final say.

How does Hawke decide?

For a brief moment on Thursday, it looked like the decision in the Djokovic case was imminent. Out of nowhere, the creators of the Australian Open postponed the draw for the first Grand Slam tournament of the tennis season, which was scheduled for 3 p.m. local time. Did that mean Hawke had made a decision? Does Djokovic have to leave the country after all? About an hour and a press conference by Prime Minister Morrison with no news about the cause later, the draw did take place – with the world number one, to whom his Serbian compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic was drawn for the first round.

But whether this game will ever take place is still uncertain. Hawke alone has it in his hand whether Djokovic can fight for his tenth Australian Open title from Monday, or whether his visa will be withdrawn again and he still has to leave Australia. But Hawke continues to hesitate, even on the third day after Djokovic’s success in court, he has not yet commented on the case, which currently concerns the whole tennis world, Australia and Serbia more than anything else.

Prime Minister Morrison did not want to anticipate his minister and refused to comment on the matter. “These are personal ministerial powers that Secretary Hawke can use and I will not comment on them at this time,” said Morrison in Canberra. According to a report in the newspaper “The Age”, the decision should now be made on Friday at the earliest. The sheet referred to government circles.

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