Sports Minister Martin Pakula has categorically denied claims made by Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett, who suggested the club had been denied government funding because of comments he made about Premier Daniel Andrews.
Kennett accused the state government of “playing politics” and denying him funding due to his criticism of the Andrews government’s handling of the COVID-19 situation.
“There are principles of good governance and principles of good government. There were 800 lives lost through administrative foul-ups and I have no qualms at all about saying someone has to highlight the failings of the government and the inner cabinet,” Kennett told the Herald Sun.
“It would be true to say I am disappointed … but the (state) government has decided for reasons of its own that they don’t want to give us the money.
“I accept this is because of my continued questioning of the government over their handling of the coronavirus (pandemic).
“I understand politics and at times politics can be very vindictive and personal, so I am not complaining. We expect it and we get on with the job.
“They are playing politics against me, but in real terms they are playing politics against the community of the southeast.”
Pakula was quick to refute the claims made by the former Victorian Premier.
“Jeff says a lot of things. It’s not correct. In fact, I caught up with the Hawthorn CEO just last week,” he told SEN’s Whateley.
“The fact is that a number of those projects that we funded in St Kilda, Carlton a couple of years ago, Essendon, Richmond all have Commonwealth funding that we were going in with.
“Now I see today that there’s some suggesting that the Commonwealth might announce funding for Hawthorn. That certainly wasn’t the case by the time the budget had come down.
“The other point about the Dingley facility is, it’s a (new) facility. All of these others are existing facilities which the clubs are in now.
“The Dingley facility is in my electorate. I’m really keen to see progress there, particularly from the community point of view and it’ll be considered in the future budget, but I wouldn’t take all of (Jeff Kennett’s) claims on face value quite frankly.”
Hawthorn is hoping to build the $100 million training base in Dingley, beginning in 2021. The federal government is set to add $15 million to their cause.