Novak Djokovic recently entered Australia and encountered problems with his visa. He had apparently received a medical exemption to enter Australia, bypassing Australia's strict COVID restrictions, but many Australians are unhappy because Djokovic is a well-known anti-vaxxer and Australians have been suffering through many tough lockdowns. Djokovic was stopped at the border, detained, and almost deported before winning a court case, but Australia can still choose to deport him by special action.

While Australia's immigration minister Alex Hawke debates whether or not to revoke Djokovic's visa, I'm wondering why this kind of decision isn't just put up for a direct vote in parliament. After all, whether Australia "should" or "should not" deport Djokovic is clearly a judgment call. There's no right or wrong answer; it depends on what one considers morally just and not. This seems to make it eminently suitable to a decision by vote - just summon the Australian parliament and vote on yes/no. A party line isn't necessary, everyone can just vote according to their moral compass. Why don't they do it?

If anyone knows of a similar incident where the result was decided by a direct vote, I'd be interested as well.

Edit: Alex Hawke has decided to revoke Djokovic's visa.

  • 1
    Do situations such as private bills used historically to obtain divorces in the United Kingdom count, or are you looking for something modern?
    – origimbo
    Jan 14, 2022 at 10:10
  • Would you expect parliament to be presented with all the facts before the vote, including the details of immigration law and the facts of the Djokovic case, or would they just have an instant vote based on their existing knowledge and beliefs?
    – Stuart F
    Jan 14, 2022 at 12:47
  • @origimbo I don't understand what your example means. Can you elaborate?
    – Allure
    Jan 14, 2022 at 12:56
  • @StuartF the former, although I don't "expect" anything.
    – Allure
    Jan 14, 2022 at 12:56
  • Until 1857, divorce with remarriage wasn't generally legal in the UK, but very wealthy individuals could cause a private bill (not a private members bill) to be introduced to parliament to allow it (effectively changing the law in their own special case) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matrimonial_Causes_Act_1857. This was very much parliament acting as a court, which isn't much in line with modern views.
    – origimbo
    Jan 14, 2022 at 15:35

1 Answer 1


The parliament is the legislative body. It makes the law, it does not execute the law (that is done by the executive branch) and it does not determine if a law is applicable ("judgment calls" are literally a matter for the the judiciary). The parliament does not to get to vote on disputed visas because this is not within their purview.

Also given that apparently there was wrong information given on the visa application, I am not sure there is still any wiggle room. I do not know Australian specifics, but in most countries wrong information (no matter if it's mistakes or lies) means the visa will be denied, and the applicant can count themselves lucky if they are not banned for entering for prolonged periods of time. You cannot really have a parliament vote on the question if bending the law is okay.

  • This answer has the theory correct. And I gave it thumbs-up. But in the real world a govt will do what it thinks it can get away with. Their motives will be the usual suspects. Lust for power, arrogance, offended ego, fear of punishment or ridicule, general childish delight at being able to punish somebody else, and so on. As the question has indicated in an update, the Aus. govt has acted to kick him out. It's a bit tyrannical and a bit frightening.
    – Dan
    Jan 14, 2022 at 20:52

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