Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie has questioned the Victorian Government’s decision to sponsor Australia’s national netball team, the Diamonds.
The $15 million partnership will run over four-and-a half-years and see the Visit Victoria logo worn by members of the squad in what Mr Andrews described as a “really big win for Victorian jobs and our tourism sector”.
Ms McKenzie cited the state’s escalating debt and hospital crisis, arguing the investment could be better spent elsewhere.
Stream the news you want, when you want with Flash. 25+ news channels in 1 place. New to Flash? Try 1 month free. Offer ends 31 October, 2022
“This is a state that has more debt than Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania combined,” she told Sky News Australia.
“Has a hospital system in crisis. If you ring triple zero in my home state, you can’t be guaranteed an ambo will arrive and yet he can find $15 million for our national team.”
Monday’s announcement comes after Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting withdrew its $15 million partnership with the Australian Diamonds just over a week ago after players raised concerns about wearing the mining company’s logo.
As part of the deal with Visit Victoria, five test matches and the 2023 Super Netball Grand Final will be played in Melbourne.
In addition to Visit Victoria branding on team uniforms, the logo will be splashed across social media content and on court advertisements.
Visit Victoria reached out to Netball Australia last week in the aftermath of Hancock Prospecting’s announcement, which came less than a month after it was revealed as a high-performance program partner of the Diamonds.
The Visit Victoria deal comes at a crucial time for Netball Australia, which posted a $4.4 million loss in the 2021 financial year.
Ms McKenzie labelled the move as “nothing more” than a cynical vote buying exercise.
“For him to now see our national team will now have requirements on them to spend more time in Victoria, to be playing more in Victoria, to be doing clinics with Victorian school children – great for Victoria but this is our national team,” she said.
“It’s nothing more than a cynical vote buying exercise on the eve of the Victorian election.”
Hancock Prospecting issued a statement on October 22 announcing it was “regrettably” withdrawing its netball support.
Indigenous netballer Donnell Wallam had raised objections to the partnership over comments made by Ms Rinehart’s father and Hancock Prospecting founder Lang Hancock who in 1984 suggested killing off troublesome Indigenous Australians.
According to a poll conducted for The Age last week, Labor’s primary vote has dropped to 38 per cent and the Coalition’s has slightly improved to 31 per cent.
On a two-party-preferred basis however, the government has a strong lead over the Matthew Guy-led Coalition with Labor ahead 59 to 41 per cent.
In terms of preferred premier, Mr Andrews holds a commanding lead of 49 per cent to Mr Guy’s 29 per cent.
Read the full article here