Statements by Senators – Djokovic, Mr Novak

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (13:46): I rise to congratulate Novak Djokovic on winning the US Open at the weekend to equal Margaret Court’s record 24 grand slam victories. His 24 grand slam titles are especially commendable given he has spent the last few years playing not just against tennis players but against governments around the world. The world’s greatest tennis player was denied by the Biden administration the opportunity even to compete at the US Open in 2021 and 2022 because he was unvaccinated, but, as senators well know, it was not only the White House who trampled on his right to play his sport. It was also our own government here, the Morrison government, that acted very disgracefully, deporting Djokovic from these shores because he feared his unvaccinated status might risk public order.

A supposedly conservative government concerned about human rights abuses all over the world trampled human rights right here in Australia because of dogged ideology. It was embarrassing and shameful, a shameful period in our country’s history, but freedom-loving Australians have not forgotten. Djokovic eventually returned to these shores, winning the Oz Open in 2023. They call Novak the Djoker—and for good reason. Why is that? It is because he exposed what a joke the vaccine mandates were both here and in the United States.

So congratulations to Novak, Serbia’s greatest athlete. Congratulations on equalling our own Margaret Court’s grand slam record, and thank you for reminding us that humility, conviction and courage in the face of bullying and intimidation can, in the end, win through.