Scott Morrison leaves door open for Novak Djokovic to return within three-year ban
18 January 2022
(See Translation in Arabic Section)
Sydney - M E Times Int'l: Prime Minister Scott Morrison has left the door open for Novak Djokovic to return to Australia without having to wait out a three-year ban.
The tennis star left the country last night, after the Federal Court upheld a decision by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to cancel his visa.
It means the 34-year-old will miss out on the chance to defend his title at the Australian Open.
Mr Hawke's decision to use his ministerial powers under the Migration Act also means Djokovic is now barred from returning to Australia for the next three years, "except in certain circumstances".
While Mr Morrison did not provide any assurances, when asked if the situation could change if Djokovic got vaccinated, Mr Morrison noted there was a possibility the tennis star could return sooner.
"I'm not going to sort of precondition any of that or say anything that would not enable the minister to make the various calls they have to make," he told Nine radio.
"I mean, it does go over a three-year period, but there is the opportunity for them to return in the right circumstances and that would be considered at the time."
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews noted if Djokovic had a "compelling reason" in the future it would be considered but that it was "all hypothetical at this point".
"Any application will be reviewed on its merits," she told Channel Nine.
Government defends decision
There has been public outcry in Serbia at Djokovic's deportation, with leaders describing the Australian government's actions as "scandalous" and the treatment of the world men's number one as akin to torture.
Ms Andrews said she was aware of the international reaction to the decision, but believed the right call was made.
"I understand that this has played out very publicly, but Australians can be very confident that the Morrison government, and its ministers, will do all that they can to ensure that Australia has strong borders," she said.
"And that those people attempting to come to Australia abide by the laws of the time."
While the federal opposition agrees that deporting Djokovic was right, it said the drawn-out process reflects poorly on Australia.
Djokovic applied for and was granted a medical exemption by two independent panels who assessed his application blind — without his name or details.
But when he landed in Melbourne, Australian Border Force officials cancelled his visa on the grounds he did not meet the entry requirements of being double-vaccinated.
"Mr Morrison never should have granted Novak Djokovic that visa in the first place," Shadow Home Affairs Minister Kristina Kenneally said.
"This is a series of unforced errors on Mr Morrison's part, and it's a mess on our borders, we are now an international embarrassment thanks to Mr Morrison's bungles."
Lung specialist Dr Lucy Morgan outlines why NSW hospitals are filled with thousands of Omicron patients
Sydney: A NSW Health care worker has outlined the reasons why the state’s hospitals are filling up with patients battling the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Sydney respiratory physician and lung specialist Dr Lucy Morgan told the media on Monday hospitals were responding to “unprecedented demands” amid the Omicron wave.
With 2,776 people in hospital, including 203 in intensive care, in NSW, Dr Morgan outlined why those numbers are so high.
The first reason was due to those who had failed to get vaccinated or get their booster shot - as these groups were at more risk of catching COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms.
“If we think about eight million people in the state, even if there's 1% unvaccinated, that's 80,000 people who are still at significant risk of catching COVID and developing severe disease,” she said.
“Many of these are our community's most vulnerable, our homeless, our patients with very severe or uncontrolled poor mental health. Those living in disability support facilities, even aged care facilities, our frail and elderly and our comorbid.”
Dr Morgan called on the entire state to continue to come forward for their vaccinations and booster shots as those who received their vaccines in the first wave will be beginning to lose immunity.
“There are some people whose immunity has waned over the last two years, and this is a particularly important point about getting boosters,” she said.
“Those who were vaccinated in the first wave, the vaccination, which includes our healthcare workers and our elderly patients, are now coming to the time where they need boosters and their immunity is waning.”
The second cause of the soaring hospital admissions was due to hospital staff who were beginning to get infected with Omicron.
“There’s our hospital staff who, of course, are part of our community living at home with their families and who are now catching COVID themselves,” she said.
Lifeline for major events in NSW
Sydney: Organisers of major events and festivals that have been cancelled or significantly disrupted by COVID Public Health Orders will be supported by funding through the NSW Government’s Event Saver Fund.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the funding was a critical lifeline for major event organisers who have had to cancel, postpone or vary their events, providing them the financial security and certainty to plan and deliver their future events in NSW.
“Major events are a key economic driver that create thousands of jobs across the state. The Event Saver Fund will ensure that organisers aren’t left high and dry as we work through this latest phase of the pandemic and sends a strong signal that the Government is here to support business,” Mr Perrottet said.
Treasurer Matt Kean said the funding was recognition of the important impact major events have on driving tourism as well as on the broader NSW economy.
“Festivals and major events are huge drawcards and they have been significantly disrupted by the latest Omicron wave of COVID-19,” Mr Kean said.
“It is vital we provide them the support they need when their event is impacted by a Public Health Order. That is exactly what this funding commitment does.”
Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin said while the pandemic has had a devastating effect on artists’ ability to perform live, today’s announcement shows the Government’s strong commitment to the arts.
“Major events provide tremendous social benefits to the community, bringing us together to enjoy live performances,” Mr Franklin said.
“As we look to rebound from the effects of the past two years, this funding will help support local jobs and ensure major event organisers can plan with confidence to safely deliver their events in 2022/23.”
Major event organisers will, from today, be able to pay suppliers, staff and recover other costs where an event is cancelled or significantly disrupted as a result of public health orders imposed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information and to apply for funding, please visit www.create.nsw.gov.au.
Three million rapid antigen tests arrive in Victoria
Melbourne: The Victorian government has received its first bulk-order delivery of rapid tests, with another 41 million on the way.
Workers in sensitive settings, essential services and Victorians with pre-existing medical conditions will get priority as part of the initial rollout.
Victoria Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said that “we are very confident in its accuracy.”
Rapid tests are now central to the state’s testing response to the Omicron outbreak.
Brad Hazzard tells vaccine 'disbelievers' to 'wake up' as NSW
Sydney: New South Wales recorded 34,660 COVID-19 cases and 20 deaths as the number of patients in hospital continues to rise.
The state's positive results come from 20,978 PRC tests and 13,682 rapid antigen tests.
There are currently 2,650 patients in hospital - up from 2,576 on Saturday - with 191 in intensive care.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the booster shot is proving to be "vital" in the fight against the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
"Many people are forgetting the importance of that third booster shot. It doesn't matter who you are, you must go and get a booster," he said.
"The booster is showing itself to be one of the vital tools in pushing back against the evil of this virus, the evil air can wreck upon us.
"It is clear that Omicron is very transmissible, it's also quite capable of doing damage to various groups of people and the third dose - the booster dose does make a huge difference.
"To both ensuring that you can fight back against a virus but also reduces the likelihood you'll end up in hospital, definitely reduces the likelihood that you'll be in the ICU and reduces the chance of death.
The Health Minister took a swipe at vaccine "disbelievers", telling them to "forget" their "silly messages".
"Finally, I will say this to the disbelievers, the disbelievers that we still have in New South Wales - wake up to yourselves. The world is telling us that this virus will keep killing us and keep putting us in hospital, unless we get vaccinated. So to them, forget your silly messages and let people just have their vaccines."
Across the state, 95.2 per cent of the over 16 population have received one vaccine, 93.8 per cent are double dosed and 25.4 per cent have received 3 doses.
PREMIER DOMINIC PERROTTET
Premier Dominic Perrottet urged residents to continue the vaccine "effort" as he warned half of the 191 patients in ICU are unvaccinated.
"At a time when we have a population right across New South Wales, [a] 95 per cent vaccination rate, here in our state we have 50 per cent of people in ICU who are unvaccinated," he said.
"So the evidence, the facts are very, very clear. Vaccination helps protect you and your family and your friends and the wider community. So please continue to make that effort."
Of the 20 deaths reported on Sunday, two people were in their 60s and had underlying health conditions, six were in their 70s, seven were in their 80s, four in their 90s and one was over 100.
Victoria reported 28,128 COVID-19 cases and a further 13 deaths on Sunday.
The state's hospitalisation has increased to 1,114 - up from 1,054 on Saturday, with 122 in intensive care - 35 of whom require ventilation.
The 28,128 cases come from 17,791 PCR tests and 10,337 rapid antigen tests and bring the total number of active infections to 237,559.
Across the state, 93 per cent of people aged 12 and over have been double dosed with a COVID-19 vaccine and 23 per cent of people aged 18 and above have received their booster shot.
Australia warned of new China threat
A Washington DC think tank has predicted China could be planning a “strategic surprise” in the Pacific region this year.
The Centre for Strategic and International Studies’ newly created Australian chair Dr Charles Edel made the prediction during an online forum this week.
But White House Indo-Pacific co-ordinator Kurt Campbell stole the show when he alluded to a specific threat “over the next year or two”: new Chinese bases.
“We have a very short amount of time, working with partners like Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, who have an interest in the Pacific, to step up our game across the board,” Campbell said.
The idea’s not new. But putting a time frame to it is.
It comes amid mounting concern at Beijing’s growing push to develop ports and airfields among Australia’s Pacific neighbours. And some attempt at “pushback” has already been made.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison last year added an extra $500 million to a $3 billion regional infrastructure plan to prove Australia was “a reliable and steady member of the Pacific family”.
It’s an initiative not lost on Campbell.
“If you look at the arena on the planet where we have enormous moral, strategic, historical interests where we (Washington DC) have not done enough – and where Australia has done plenty – it is in the Pacific. We’ve got to substantially step up” Campbell said. “That means in Covid, that means in fishing, that means in issues associated with investment and clean energy, you can go down the list,” he said.
“I’m frankly looking to Australia as the lead here. And we as the United States have to be a better deputy sheriff to them in this overall effort.”
Beijing began boosting its interests in the Pacific Islands in the mid-2000s. Some tiny island states – with populations barely more than 100,000 – have taken advantage of enticing “below cost” loans. Most have signed significant trade deals. Several state-controlled Chinese construction companies are actively soliciting business in the region.
Early last year, five Micronesian nations withdrew from the Pacific Islands Forum – an organisation intended to give the widely scattered islands a stronger voice in international affairs.
France, Britain, New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Taiwan have been striving to stem the flow of Chinese influence into the Pacific.
Such tensions spilt over into violence in November when Chinese businesses in the Solomon Islands capital of Honiara were torched.
‘As we feared’: Anti-vaxxers fill ICU as experts reveal the total impact they have on the health system
Sydney: A hospital in Australia’s anti-vax heartland has made the startling admission that all six of the patients currently in ICU are unvaccinated.
Lismore Base Hospital has now been forced to open a third Covid ward, with 50 patients admitted after contracting the virus.
The Daily Telegraph reported the current crisis is unfolding exactly as doctors predicted, with the majority of hospitalised cases unvaccinated.
“It is as we feared,” Dr Chris Ingall, from the hospital’s medical staff council, told the publication.
“We are seeing an almost exclusively unvaccinated population in the hospital and exclusively unvaccinated in the intensive care ward at this point.
“We predicted this, we said there would be a tsunami here, everyone predicted it would sweep through the pockets of the unvaccinated.”
At just 83 per cent, vaccination rates in the Byron Shire are some of the lowest in the state.
One of the people in ICU is Mullimbimby-based tarot card reader and reiki master Helen Dean who had previously protested against vaccine mandates.
She caught the virus last month and has been on a ventilator since Christmas Day.
In the weeks since she first contracted Covid her friends have flooded her social media pages with healing sentiments and chanting ceremonies.
The Daily Telegraph reported she was taken off life support on Saturday but remains in ICU.
One person questioned Ms Dean’s anti-vaccination views after hearing about her sickness.
“Send healing love to Helen but I also found this on the front page of the newspaper today. Please please get vaccinated no one needs to put (their) lives at risk for an ideology,” they wrote.
Just weeks ago, Mullumbimby-based Archibald-winning artist Craig Ruddy died at age 53 from complications due to Covid-19. He was also unvaccinated.
Meanwhile, NSW Health data has revealed the impact anti-vaxxers are causing on the health system.
Of NSW’s Covid deaths, 420 were unvaccinated while just 96 had the jab.