Andrew Gaze has weighed in on the ongoing furore surrounding Gina Rinehart's decision to pull out from a $15 million sponsorship deal with Netball Australia.
The Australian basketball great has ripped into billionaire mining magnate Rinehart, after her company, Hancock Prospecting, withdrew from the deal after concerns were raised by Donnell Wallam, the third Indigenous player in Diamonds history.
Comments made by Lang Hancock, the founder of the company and Rinehart's father, in which he suggested the government 'dope up' the water in Indigenous communities as a method of sterilisation, are believed to be at the centre of Wallam's concerns.
She received the backing of the rest of the Diamonds squad and had sought to get an exemption from wearing the Hancock Prospecting logo, while teammates were happy to wear the sponsor's name.
This was rejected outright by Netball Australia and Hancock Prospecting subsequently pulled the offer, citing 'disunity' among players as one of the reasons why.
Great man Andrew Gaze on SEN just now says that if his dad had said what Gina Rinehart's dad said he would publicly denounce and tell him "that is vile". "It you can't come to the conclusion that sterilising a race of people is a bad thing then we are not friends."
— Rohan Smith (@Ro_Smith) October 25, 2022
Gaze was highly critical of Rinhehart's quick decision to walk out of the multi-million dollar deal, saying that while she was not to blame for her father's views, it would not be unreasonably to distance herself from them publicly.
Rinehart has never publicly commented on Lang Hancock's views about Indigenous Australians.
“She (Gina Rinehart) could have apologised for her father’s comments, distanced herself from them and told us that she doesn’t believe those things. Instead, she pulled her money out,” Gaze told SEN.
“I am not blaming Gina Rinehart for her father’s comments, but what I don’t understand is why she won’t very publicly disassociate herself from them.
“If my dad had said that, or if my uncle, or anyone associated with me, or if my friend said it, (I would say), ‘I love this person, I’m still going to love him, but I’m going to educate him, I’m going to say, no, that is not the right way to deal with that issue, it is actually vile what you’ve said’.
“If you can’t reconsider that, then I’m going to question our friendship, if you’re going to maintain that view, then you’re not a friend of mine.
“Let’s talk about it, let’s discuss it, let’s figure it out, but if you can’t come to the conclusion that sterilising human beings is not actually a good thing, then you’re no friend of mine.”
It may be semantics to some but to me there is difference between disassociating yourself from comments and apologising. I don't recall suggesting that an apology was necessary but absolutely believe rebuking repugnant views would help. Not sure the story matches the comments. https://t.co/xA3GGbkf1b
— Andrew Gaze (@AndrewGaze10) October 25, 2022
Netball Australia searching for options after $15 million deal falls through
Hancock Prospecting had agreed to a four-year deal with Netball Australia, who suffered losses of $7 million over the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The $15 million was due to go directly to the high-performance program and appeared to be a lifeline for the cash-strapped sport.
It prompted a week of turmoil and while Netball Australia and Diamonds captain Liz Watson both stressed their support for the Hancock deal, the mining company pulled out of the sponsorship deal on Saturday.
"Hancock and Roy Hill do not wish to add to Netball's disunity problems, and accordingly Hancock has advised Netball Australia that it has withdrawn from its proposed partnership effective immediately," Hancock said in a statement.
In a follow-up statement, Hancock took aim at Netball Australia's 'virtue signalling'.
“Hancock and its executive chairman Mrs Rinehart consider that it is unnecessary for sports organisations to be used as the vehicle for social or political causes," the company said.
“Firstly, because sport is at its best when it is focused on good and fair competition, with dedicated athletes striving for excellence to achieve their sporting dreams and to represent our country at their very best.
“Secondly, because there are more targeted and genuine ways to progress social or political causes without virtue signalling or for self-publicity. For example, the meaningful engagement with local Indigenous communities undertaken by Hancock’s Roy Hill Community Foundation in West Australia to support their actual needs.
“Thirdly, because there are more impactful means to make a beneficial difference. For example, Hancock’s holistic support for real programs including Hanrine Futures - that are providing a true pathway for Indigenous students through education and into employment where they are guaranteed a job should they wish, at the end of their training.
“The reality is that sponsorship is integral to sports organisations - for full-time professionals right through to young children at the grassroots level - who rely on corporations investing the funds that enable all sports to not only survive, but thrive."
The mining company said it hadn't insisted the Diamonds wear their branding, and was confident players had supported the sponsorship.
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