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One judge or three? Wrangle over Djokovic’s next court hearing

A federal court is considering whether Novak Djokovic’s second visa stoush with the Australian government should be heard by a lone judge or full bench.

There was no sign of the Serbian tennis star during Saturday’s procedural hearing of the Federal Court of Australia ahead of a further hearing on Sunday.

Djokovic, 34, had been due to meet with immigration officials at an undisclosed location in Melbourne at 8am on Saturday before being detained.

Immigration minister Alex Hawke used his discretionary powers just before 6pm on Friday to cancel the world No.1’s visa, having considered evidence from Djokovic’s lawyers, along with advice from federal agencies.

Justice David O’Callaghan confirmed the transfer of the case from the Federal Circuit Court and the timing for key documents to be filed, including detailed reasons for Mr Hawke’s decision.

They are expected to be made public on Saturday, with Djokovic agreeing they can be published before being “read” in court.

‘Anti-vax sentiments’

In Friday night’s hearing, Djokovic’s legal representative, Nick Wood SC, said the minister’s decision was based on concerns Djokovic would “excite anti-vax sentiments” if allowed to remain in Australia and play in the Australian Open

Mr Wood said the minister was “patently irrational” in not considering that kicking the tennis star out of the country would also excite the same anti-vaccination sentiments.

In addition, Justice O’Callaghan raised the possibility of convening a full court of three judges for Sunday’s hearing, scheduled for 9.30am AEDT, instead of a single judge.

Paul Holdenson QC, also representing Djokovic, said his team would support the case being dealt with by a full court.

“Three judges is appropriate,” he said.

But Stephen Lloyd SC, representing Mr Hawke, said the federal government was opposed, noting it would limit both parties right to appeal.

“Having the matter referred to the full court would remove any party’s right to appeal,” he said.

A decision on whether a full court will sit is expected later in the day.

-AAP

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