(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

The Novak Djokovic court case ended with a whimper. The Commonwealth government, part way through its submissions, effectively conceded that it couldn’t win. That was not because it recognised it was on the wrong side of a cranky judge’s favour, but because its defence was utterly hopeless.

Simply put, the Australian Border Force had fucked up the procedural steps it needed to take to give valid effect to the ultimately correct decision the government wanted it to make: to cancel Djokovic’s visa. Those steps are set out in simple detail by the Migration Act; a moderately competent counter clerk at the motor registry could have followed them and got them right. If Border Force had managed that, Djokovic would have had no case at all.

The direction to intercept Djokovic when he landed, put him in a holding cell and fast-track his deportation was undoubtedly a political one; you’d be a fool to think otherwise. The procedural handling, however, was left to the officers whose job it is to know and follow the simple rules of due process that the law stipulates.