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Premier Must Rule Out Any Public Monies to Saudi Sportswashing

Greens MLC Tammy Franks has called on Premier Peter Malinauskas to rule out providing any public monies to Saudi Arabia after he welcomed the LIV Golf International Series potentially coming to South Australia in 2023. The majority shareholder of the Series is the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Crown Prince Bin Salman, chair of the Public Investment Fund, is suspected of being behind the murder of US-based journalist and critic of Saudi Arabia’s government, Jamal Khashoggi. When asked about Khashoggi’s murder earlier this year, LIV boss Greg Norman said “look, we’ve all made mistakes and you just want to learn by those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward”.

Saudi Arabia has been repeatedly criticized by international human-rights organizations for aggressively investing in top-level sporting events, including Formula One and boxing, and buying European football clubs to distract from its widespread human-rights violations. The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia also invested $2 billion into Russian assets prior to the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

The Royal Sydney Golf Club has reportedly rejected the opportunity to host a tournament and the Victorian state government is also said to be uninterested in working with LIV.

Ms Franks also questioned why the State Government would support hosting the Series given that it has introduced legislation to divest millions of dollars in South Australian workers’ superannuation held in Russian assets by Funds SA.

Quotes attributable to Tammy Franks MLC:

“Hosting this tournament is a swing and a miss for our state. Do we really want South Australia to be a new home for laundering the blood-stained reputation of Saudi Arabia?”

“We now recognise that it is unacceptable for cigarette companies to sponsor events given the harms they enable. We must come to the same conclusion for fossil fuel companies and authoritarian regimes.”

“The Premier’s judgement on this one is not up to par. Saudi Arabia is not sponsoring sports events for altruistic reasons: they’re trying to buy social license for their bloody regime.”

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