Oz for Dummies: Week 2, 2022

Andreas Ortmann
6 min readJan 16, 2022


(January 9–16) The Djoker is gone (Hallelujah!) / Pandemic normality in the land of Oz (and Europe)

Quite the week it was, wasn’t it? The Novax Djoker story made headlines wherever you were. A bit like a fart in a VW Beetle, windows closed. Quite amazing given that his major talent seems to be to move expertly, per racket, a ball from one side of the court to the other.

When the whole story started it seemed obvious that the Morrison government used it cynically to score political points on border security, and its tough stance on it, in Straya almost always a winning strategy. Alas, it did not take long for this government to be outed for its usual incompetence. A procedural error allowed the Djoker’s (undoubtedly highly-paid) lawyers to have the cancellation of the visa revoked. Which led to days of Hawke (the immigration minister), and his lawyers, trying to come up with a procedurally error-free narrative.

In the end they based their (new) argument on the potential for civil unrest that a non-vaxxed DJoker could incite among Aussie anti-vaxxers. Apparently that is, given the low bar, a winning narrative. We will soon see. (My bet is it will be successful. [Update: It was.] Certainly some of the arguments that the Djoker’s team has floated — “the government did not ask him about his current views about vaccination” — are transparently silly. Cheap talk anyone?)

Before we got to today’s proceedings in front of the federal court a number of other things came out, all the way from questions about the DJoker’s alleged test results to false information on the visa application form (and the interview conducted in the wee hours of his arrival), to an “error of judgement” when, after he allegedly tested positive, he did not take the precautions he was supposed to take even under Serbian regulations.

Alas, I believe the premise that he got that test on 16 December 2021 is flawed. Here’s a narrative consistent with the facts that have emerged so far in the Djoker saga. Tennis Australia (TA) really wanted the dude to come. What’s an Australian Open without the reigning numero uno after all? Novax himself of course also wanted to come. That 21st title would have sat pretty in his collection. Unfortunately, for him, he did not want to get vaxxed.

At some point in early December someone at TA — wink, wink, nudge, nudge — points out to Novax — if he were to test positive (and then negative) — that he could get a visa based on some (now contested) guidelines. Guidelines under which less prominent international travellers were apparently allowed to enter the country. Cue the ordeal that Renata Voracova was put through. Despicable.

So Novax tries to pull the stunt. It’s Novax after all. Supreme entitled twat and all. Used to get his way. Claims (falsely) that he had a positive test Dec 16 and then a few days later documents that he has recovered (provides a negative test). Brilliant.

Alas, all the way through he acts according to the true state of the world (him not being infected), ie. does promotions of various sorts, goes to Spain, etc. All of which now seems to catch up with him since had he really been infected he would have committed many many errors of judgement. Even for an entitled twat like him that is hard to believe.

Expect the Djoker to come clean about the true state of the world as soon as he faces the wrath of his Serbian compadres (including apparently the Serbian pm.) (Admittedly, this last prediction is the iffiest part of the narrative. Depends clearly on what consequences he faces in Spain and Serbia if he admitted it.)

Whatever the outcome, what this episode has shown is the troubling “God-like” power that the immigration minister has. A power that allows him to lock away innocent kidz for almost decade. If ever there was a disgrace this is it. It is to be hoped the attention remains focussed on this problem — alas, I fear the media‘s attention will probably soon focus on something else.

Stop the Press:

[from SMH live ticker]

Djokovic loses court case

Novak Djokovic faces deportation after three Federal Court judges ruled in favour of the government’s decision to cancel his visa.

The ruling was unanimous.

More to come. Everywhere. CNN, The Guardian, … should be a real twitter fest … Mr Djokovic, Chief Justice, Alex Hawke all trending heavily.

/ Pandemic normality in the land of Oz

Meanwhile, Omicron cases continued to surge all across Australia this past week, with tens of thousands in NSW, VIC, and QLD testing positive either via pcr test or rapid antigen test (rat). NSW Health modelling suggest that we are at or near the peak, a claim supported by federal authorities for other states, too. While the case numbers (and the surely much higher number of infections) have been alarming, there are promising signs that the statistics that really count (hospitalizations, ICU referrals, people on ventilators, and deaths with covid) will be less than predicted. Michael Fuhrer’s daily updates (this one from today) illustrate this most excellently:

Recall that the actual hospitalization rate is confounded by the overlap of Delta and Omicron waves. Most intensive care beds are occupied by patients infected with the Delta strain or patients who are unvaccinated. Omicron, while more infectious than Delta, is significantly less damaging than its predecessor.

That insight keeps getting support: “A new CDC analysis found that severe illness and death from Covid were extremely rare in vaccinated people. Among 1,228,664 fully vaccinated people across the US, 185 (0.015%) had severe illness and 36 (0.0033%) died. Covid vaccines are extremely safe and remarkably effective.”

The surge in cases brought about, predictably, more alarmist nonsense. It is mostly the usual partisan drivel that predicts lockdown by Australia Day, that kind of stuff. You know that it is partisan drivel when you read something like this:

This catastrophe was visited upon us by leaders — NSW Premier Dom Perrotet and Prime Minister Scott Morrison in particular — on the grounds they were protecting the economy.

It seems that the author needs to urgently look up the playbooks of Victoria-Andrews and Queensland-Palaszczuk. Interestingly, all that alarmist nonsense has become fairly inconsequential. As Sascha Callaghan observed astutely:

She also notes that “one of the benefits of this massive outbreak is that people are seeing for themselves what getting COViD is like when vaccinated for adults and kids — generally not that bad. That’s something we had to experience to believe.”

Again, a very astute observation.

/ Pandemic normality in Europe

I have travelled in Europe for four weeks now. After two weeks in Paris, I travelled via Germany to Prague, and came back to Paris earlier this week. I have seen none of the “How-many-deaths-are-acceptable-to-you?!!” hysteria that has been such a peculiar feature of the Australian debate. I conjecture that a major reason for that state of affairs is that nowhere in Europe have there been organized mobs of economists that lost their trade-off marbles.

In Germany, even with again starkly rising case numbers, there is now a sense that Omicron has been a blessing in disguise and that it signals the end of the pandemic.

Traveling in Europe has been easy —I passed each and every occasional control by simply showing my Impfbuch. It does not take, even in France, the pass sanitaire (health pass) as this author falsely claims. No need to spend €36 on something you do not need.

And that’s the wrap for week 2 of 2022.

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Greetings from Paris!



Andreas Ortmann

EconProf: I post occasionally on whatever tickles my fancy: Science, evidence production, the Econ tribe, Oz politics, etc. Y’all r entitled to my opinions …