Sam Newman stages bizarre virus protest outside Victoria parliament

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor
Sam Newman marches on parliament to demand answers. Image: Sam Newman/Twitter

Sam Newman has staged a bizarre protest on the steps of Victorian parliament to rally against the state’s ban on playing golf.

All golf courses around Victoria have been closed as the state tries to battle the spread of coronavirus.

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However the blanket closure has left AFL icon Newman fuming, especially after NSW decided to re-open courses to the public two weeks ago.

Courses in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania also remain open - albeit with strict social-distancing measures in place.

The former AFL Footy Show host marched to state parliament on Thursday afternoon decked out in his most colourful golf gear and with clubs in toe.

The 71-year-old demanded an audience with Premier Daniel Andrews, documenting his stunt on Twitter and labelling the closure ‘absolute nonsense’.

“Victorians, unlike their interstate counterparts, can’t play golf,” he said in a video posted online.

“So I’m going to the seat of government, where Daniel Andrews might be in the house, and I’m going to respectfully ask him why in god’s name can’t we go on to a golf course, social distance, and play golf?

“I’m going to stand here for an hour or so and if he hears that I’m here, I’ll put a ball marker down.

“I’ve got a GPS for social distancing, and we’ll ask him - why in god’s name can’t Victorians play golf? So here we go.”

Newman’s stunt received support from some high-profile Aussie sports star, including Shane Warne and AFL players Nick Riewoldt and Dale Thomas.

“Go on Sammy!!!!!!! I must admit, that you have a very good point,” Warne responded to Newman’s video on Twitter.

“When I went to the supermarket a few days ago, there were 20 people in a confined space, plenty of room in the open space of a golf course.”

However there were many more who thought Newman was wasting his time and needed a dose of reality.

Some even called for Newman to be fined for breaking isolation rules.

Golf Australia defends conflicting advice

Golf Australia is standing by its recommendation that courses should be closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, despite confusion and anger around the country over the position.

The national body has reiterated its statement advising clubs to shut down their courses, saying they are following federal government guidelines.

However only Victoria followed that edict, with courses in all other states and territories remaining open for play, stating that they are following their own government advice.

Adding to the confusion, PGA of Australia's chief executive Gavin Kirkman also circulated a memo to its members saying golf can continue under the right social-distancing practices.

A sign displaying the closure of the local Mollymook Golf Course. (Photo by David Gray/Getty Images)

Golf Australia said it was still of the view that golf was a “non-essential activity”.

“Golf Australia remains of the view that golf is a non-essential activity, a view which sits comfortably with the current Federal Government directive and rules to ‘stay at home’ unless absolutely necessary,” GA said in a statement.

“Of course, Golf Australia is merely recommending that position to all clubs around Australia and ultimately we respect the right of the clubs to act in the way they see fit while complying with all social distancing requirements.

“Golf Australia has adopted - and will continue to adopt - a prudent position of respecting and heeding Government advice on all matters pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

with AAP