Australia’s powerbrokers unveil ‘major’ new sponsorship with Gina Rinehart

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Australia’s richest person has all but saved netball but a former Diamonds captain says it is ‘unacceptable’.

Former Diamonds captain Sharni Norder has criticised Netball Australia’s decision to accept sponsorship for the national team from mining billionaire Gina Rinehart.

Norder (nee Layton), who played 46 times for Australia and skippered the team in 2017, called on the governing body to “do better” despite its precarious financial position.

Earlier this year the sport’s cash crisis was revealed, with the COVID-19 pandemic contributing to losses of more than $7 million over the past two years.

Netball Australia chief executive Kelly Ryan said the code was “incredibly grateful” for Rinehart’s support.

“This is a major investment for our sport and is a huge contribution towards the ongoing success of the Diamonds,” Ryan said on Thursday.

“We are incredibly grateful to this leading Australian private company, Hancock Prospecting, for its significant support and partnership.”

The Hancock Prospecting logo will feature on the Diamonds’ uniforms when they take on New Zealand in the Constellation Cup next month.

Australia’s richest person, Rinehart has also invested in the elite level of swimming, synchronised swimming, rowing and women’s volleyball together with making a multimillion-dollar commitment to the Australian Olympic Committee.

Norder, who switched to AFLW in 2018, is a Sports Environment Alliance ambassador and said netball shouldn’t associate itself with Rinehart.

“As a proud @SEA_theChange ambassador, it’s unacceptable to put our brand alongside an open climate denier,” Norder tweeted on Thursday.

“We have put too much into our sport to give social licence to a company who’s (sic) profit-at-all-cost attitude puts our future in danger. Be better”.

Rinehart’s company, Hancock Prospecting, will support the Diamonds until the end of 2025, with the money to go towards the team’s high performance program.

It comes at a key time for the national team as they prepare for the 2023 Netball World Cup in Cape Town and the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games.

Ex-cricketer Matt Berriman, the head of a consortium whose private equity offer to Netball Australia was rejected, also slammed the partnership.

“So won’t even engage with a credible team, that were willing to pay more then $6.5m for Super Netball & offered to invest into NA directly. Yet take money from Gina who’s destroying Australian land & creating harm to the climate & increasing emissions. Am I missing something?,” Berriman tweeted.

“We will continue to focus on growing our sport and identifying the right commercial opportunities for our game’s future.”

Australian Associated Press

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