Netball Australia (NA) has seen almost $18 million of federal government funding cut from the sport after a key proposal to the Australian Sports Commission was deemed unsatisfactory. It is yet another blow for NA who remain locked in a bitter pay dispute, with netballers around the nation impacted.
Minister for Sport Anika Wells confirmed the funds would no longer go exclusively to netball and instead would be put into a pool for women's sport in general. "I'm focused on outcomes for female athletes and quite simply, this money needs to be directed to areas I'm confident positive outcomes will happen," Wells said.
The government deemed NA had not made a 'satisfactory case for the funding'. "On the matter of remaining uncontracted funds that had been set aside for Netball Australia, those funds had always been subject to the receipt of a sufficiently robust business case," the government said in a statement. "A satisfactory proposal has not been received that would enable appropriate use of these taxpayer funds."
The funding had been set aside for the code from a 2019 election pledge by then prime minister Scott Morrison. At the time, Netball Australia said the money would "fund numerous initiatives – from grassroots through to high performance – which aim to secure a strong and long-term future for the sport".
Of the $30m set aside, just over $12m has been used. The Sports Commission sought a formal submission from NA for what the remaining funding would go towards for 18 months, with a submission received six weeks ago.
NA chief executive Kelly Ryan has not given up on the funding, saying the organisation intends to make another submission, involving bidding for the 2027 World Cup in an attempt to secure the funds. "Importantly, the minister for sport has confirmed the government is still open for discussion and Netball Australia will re-submit an updated business case," Ryan said.
"We will continue discussions with the federal government and provide them with a proposal that enables their investment in the growth of the netball community that is made up of over one million people."
Netball Australia's ugly pay dispute leaves Super Netball future unclear
The funding blow comes as Australian Netball Players' Association (ANPA) president, Jo Weston, fronted the media on Thursday after the pay dispute turned ugly over the weekend when several players didn't attend Netball Australia's awards night.
A statement released from the players union claimed Diamonds stars were contractually obligated to attend the awards night but many opted to snub the ceremony. The last collective playing agreement expired eight weeks ago, leaving Super Netball players in limbo, some without pay for weeks.
NA offered an interim deal on Wednesday to backpay players but it was rejected with ANPA describing it as a "publicity stunt". ANPA and NA are expected to meet on Friday to again attempt to negotiate an end to the long-running dispute.
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