Tony Armstrong shares devastating email amid netball sponsor storm

Tony Armstrong is pictured left and Gina Rinehart is pictured right.
TV host Tony Armstrong has shared screenshots of racis abuse sent to him after he criticised Gina Rinehart for pulling Hancock Prospecting's $15 million sponsorship of Netball Australia. Pictures: Channel 10/Getty Images

The ABC has reportedly contacted police after Tony Armstrong shared a screenshot of a horrific email sent to his work account in the wake of his comments regarding Netball Australia's recent sponsorship furore.

The popular ABC host and former AFL player has never shied away from supporting Indigenous causes and Australians - a fact that should come as little surprise given he is a proud Barranbinya man.

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Armstrong had praised Diamonds player Donnell Wallam, just the third Indigenous player in the team's history, after she boldly raised concerns about wearing the Hancock Prospecting logo on her uniform when she debuted for the team against England in October.

Her concerns arose from comments made by the company's founder Lang Hancock, in which he publicly suggested sterilising the Indigenous population.

Hancock Prospecting is now owned by his daughter, Gina Rinehart, who withdrew the $15 million sponsorship deal with Netball Australia in the wake of Wallam's concerns being raised.

Wallam had the support of her teammates in raising the issue, and at no time did she seek to have the deal dropped in its entirety - however Rinehart said 'disunity' at Netball Australia had been behind her decision to withdraw.

The Victorian Government ultimately stepped in with a $15 million offer to promote their 'Visit Victoria' tourism campaign.

Armstrong, who supported Wallam and criticised Rinehart as the situation unfolded, shared the racist abuse he had been sent in a screenshot on Twitter.

“This s*** has gotta stop,” he wrote.

“One thing is for certain though, this isn’t guna stop us speaking up or stepping up. Sent to my work email, no less.”

The message, littered with curse words, refers to Armstrong as 'filthy', 'scum', and 'a dog'.

Many sporting and TV personalities replied to Armstrong's tweet offering support, including The Project host Peter Heliar and former Sydney Swans players Jude Bolton and Tadgh Kennelly.

Heliar responded: “Disgraceful. Love ya T. Here for you”.

Bolton wrote: “Bloody awful, racist c**p mate. Utterly disgusting. Love you Tony”.

According to The Guardian, the ABC have contacted police regarding the matter.

Tony Armstrong won 'Most Popular New Talent' at the Logie Awards earlier this year. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Tony Armstrong won 'Most Popular New Talent' at the Logie Awards earlier this year. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Tony Armstrong backs Donnell Wallam amid Netball Australia furore

Prior to the reveal of the Victorian state government stepping in to save the deal, Armstrong had criticised Rinehart on The Project for her unwillingness to acknowledge her father's views.

The former footballer said the money donated by Rinehart to various Indigenous causes was appreciated, but didn't represent doing any meaningful work, and invited her on the show to discuss Hancock's views.

“The fact remains that what her dad said while at the helm of Hancock Prospecting is hands down the worst thing anything could say about another race,” Armstrong said.

“Let’s be clear, he was not a senile blow-in who got drunk and shot his mouth off. He was the mining pioneer who started the company. He was the one who handed the reins to Gina. He believed every one of those words.

“Us blackfellas are big on truth-telling. So in the spirit of reconciliation, Gina, what do you think about your dad’s comments? We just want to know what you reckon. Send us an email or come join us on the desk.

“Just let us know, Gina. As Australia’s richest person, your words and opinions matter.”

Gina Rinehart, pictured here watching on during the 2018 Australia swimming national trials.
Gina Rinehart is seen watching on during the 2018 Australia swimming national trials. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Armstrong was backed by The Project co-host Waleed Aly, who pointed out that the initial concerns raised by Wallam had been blown well out of proportion, after days earlier Australian cricket captain Pat Cummins made his own comments about Cricket Australia's sponsorship arrangements.

“A lot of this has been presented as she tried to tear the whole thing down,” Aly said.

“She didn’t. She had a very understandable problem, she told her teammates about it, they were moved by what she said and then decided they would stand in solidarity.

“She didn’t say, ‘I’m trying to burn the join down’ or any of that sort of stuff. I feel like that distinction has been completely lost in this and she’s just at the bottom of something that almost has nothing to do with what she actually did.”

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