During a segment aired on The Project, both Wilkinson and co-host Nazeem Hussein suggested the timing of the move was a tactic to bury the story.
Politicians, businesses and government departments often release news at a late hour on a Friday in a practice known as ‘taking out the trash’.
‘Well, 6pm Friday night drops of political stories is a classic political move if you want a kill a story,’ Wilkinson said. ‘But I don’t think this story will be killed!’
The veteran journalist made the comments during a segment discussing the news of the day on Friday
Mr Hawke announced Djokovic’s deportation at 5.50pm – some four days after the Australian Government lost a previous court case to remove the sportsman from the country.
The decision-making process appeared agonisingly slow from the outside with media reports claiming each day that Mr Hawke was on the verge of making a decision.
That moment finally came on Friday, with Mr Hawke announcing: ‘Today I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so.
‘In making this decision, I carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Mr Djokovic.
Advantage, Australian Government? Legal experts say Novak Djokovic’s chances of overcoming the Immigration Minister’s decision are slim
‘The Morrison Government is firmly committed to protecting Australia’s borders, particularly in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.’
The move has already sparked a late-night legal battle with Djokovic’s lawyers, who are expected to file for an injunction against the visa cancellation this evening.
Legal experts have said the tennis superstar’s chances of overturning the Minister’s decision are slim.
Immigration expert floored by the ‘extreme powers’ used to cancel of Novak Djokovic’s visa – but insists there is still a chance he will be able to play in the Australian Open
Abul Rizvi, a former Deputy Secretary of the Immigration Department, told Channel 10’s The Project on Friday night that he was shocked by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke’s announcement.
Mr Rizvi also added that the world No.1 can appeal the decision via his lawyers – meaning he could still feature in the Grand Slam at Melbourne Park on Monday.
Former Immigration Department Deputy Secretary Abul Rizvi told Channel 10’s The Project on Friday night the move from Immigration Minister Alex Hawke to cancel Novak Djokovic’s visa shocked him
World number one Djokovic, 34, can appeal the decision via his lawyers on legal grounds – meaning he could still feature at Melbourne Park come Monday
‘So what the minister (Mr Hawke) has done is use second 113C of the (Migration) Act,’ Rizvi said.
‘It gives him a power to cancel a visa holder’s visa, if the minister considers it is in the public interest to do so.
‘And he can do that without giving the visa holder any natural justice. That is what he’s done. It is a very, very extreme power.
‘I recall when it was developed we only thought it would be used in the most extraordinary and rare circumstances, where someone presented a very serious risk to the Australian population.
‘I did not ever expect it to be used in these circumstances.’
Mr Rizvi labelled the decision a ‘high wire act’ – and that he would have advised Mr Hawke to go down a different path.
The panel on The Project also labelled the timing of the news – 6pm on a Friday – a ‘classic political move.’
It comes after Mr Hawke said he acted on ‘health and good order grounds on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so’.
The cancellation effectively means Djokovic, 34, would be barred from a new Australian visa for three years, except under certain circumstances.
The visa decision put the Serbian world number one’s dream of a 10th Australian Open title and a record 21st Grand Slam in peril.
He Djokovic successfully appeals the decision and wins – again – he will be granted a bridging visa due to his ‘work’ as a professional tennis player.
The megastar first flew into Melbourne airport on January 5, claiming a vaccine exemption because of a positive PCR test result on December 16.