Wiradjuri man James Blackwell says the controversy that led to Hancock Prospecting canning its sponsorship of the Australia Diamonds netball team “absurd”.
Australia Diamonds player Donnell Wallam (Noongar), the third Indigenous player to represent Australian netball, objected to wearing sponsor Hancock Prospecting's logo, because of the company founder Lang Hancock’s comments about "sterilising Indigenous Australians" made in the 1980s.
Wallam's decision had the support of all her Diamonds teammates. And Wallam returned their loyalty with a match-winning debut with a last-moment layup goal to beat England last week.
Blackwell says the controversy is a “sad reminder” of what Australia still is today, with comments like Hancock’s, calling his behavior and comments indefensible.
“It highlights the systemic, societal racism that still very much exists in Australia.
“There’s a very indirect but clear link between the society that Lang Hancock grew up in and the society where a young Aboriginal boy [Cassius Turvey] can get murdered on the street.”
James Blackwell comments on Indigenous netball player's sponsorship fiasco.
“The mining industry in Australia, with regard to the Aboriginal people, has a long flawed history. There’s no other way to defend that other than apologise for it and try to do better.”
Hancock chair Gina Rinehart, also the richest person in Australia and daughter of Lang Hancock, has been called on to apologise for her father’s comments. Instead, she was defensive, Blackwell says, and criticised the situation as “woke sportspeople”.
And her company axed its $15 million sponsorship deal with Netball Australia.
Blackwell says Rinehart doesn’t care enough about the sponsorship dilemma to see it as an issue.
“Her billions of dollars have come from exploiting Aboriginal people’s land and resources – that’s how she makes her money. Why would she ever think to consider the views, the hurt, the suffering caused by her father’s comments?
“Say sorry, acknowledge the wrong.”