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Speech: LIV Golf Payments to a vote

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (17:27): I thank those speakers who have made a contribution today: the Hon. Frank Pangallo, the Hon. Jing Lee and the Hon. Clare Scriven. I wish to reflect that this motion now does have quite a renewed relevance for South Australia.

I remind members—as I did in question time yesterday—that the future of LIV Golf is indeed uncertain since this peace deal was brokered just over a week ago, to the surprise of the international sporting community but probably not to the surprise of its proponents, particularly Mr Al-Rumayyan, who is in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's inner circle and who was considered the mastermind of the Golf Saudi and then LIV Golf projects.

Certainly, Greg Norman was not in the room where these discussions happened, and Greg Norman and his part in LIV Golf have been who the South Australian government have been negotiating with. Norman had been the chief executive since LIV Golf's launch but he has not been seen or heard of much lately, and he certainly was not privy to this brokered peace deal.

I also remind members of this council that the now former PGA commissioner, Jay Monahan, was quoted on 3 June—when asked specifically whether LIV would continue to coexist in its present form in 2024 with concurrent events and LIV branding—in Sports Illustrated as saying:

I can't see that scenario, but I haven't got the full evaluation, the full empirical evaluation of LIV that I'm going to do to be able to comment on that.

He continued:

But I don't see that scenario, no. To me, any scenarios that you're thinking about that bridge between the PGA Tour and LIV would be longer term in nature.

There are many questions remaining. But there are many questions that the South Australian public already had that relate to prior to the peace deal and continue today. While from the government we got effectively a speech that was a press release where we were told it sold out, well, exactly how many tickets were sold and at what profit? What was the return on investment? How much did South Australia pay? How much was taken from the South Australian major events fund, that $40 million put in to last year's budget that was afforded to the next four years of this contract with LIV Golf? What does that contract actually look like? What does it entail? Are there any restrictions?

Certainly, early on in this debate, I was very happy to raise sportswashing concerns, and I will just say that the whole point of sportswashing is not that the sport itself or the event itself is somehow unenjoyable or odious. In fact, the whole point of sportswashing is to associate yourself with something that people enjoy or support—hence the purchase of Newcastle United, 'Away the Geordies, away the lads!' and hence coming to South Australia with a golf tournament that people have enjoyed to associate yourself with something that people support—and wash away the human rights abuses with the enjoyment of sport. That is the point of sportswashing. It is not that sportswashing is something that people in itself find the sport to be odious; indeed, the sport is the good time that is had that is used to detract or deflect.

What I would raise concerns about—and I did at the time—is that, for example, our major events legislation not be used to prohibit protest, and I would hope that we would find no details around intentions to prohibit protest. Before people think that that might be a bridge too far, I note that the international cricketing governing board previously had us rush legislation through this place to ensure that we did not have protesters at international cricket matches at the Adelaide Oval. So we have had a history of sport requiring that sort of dampening of democracy.

This motion is what is called an order of production of documents and it has not been done in South Australia in my time in the parliament, but I see it in other states and territories. I note that in other states and territories their spend on big events, on major events, is far more transparent than it is in South Australia, so there is actually no level playing field here. We can find out more about what other governments do in spending other state budget money for major events than we can here in South Australia. I do not think that is good for democracy and, no matter what your opinion on LIV Golf, I think we are all here to uphold transparency and democracy.

The idea that we have set up a fund through the Premier's department, where a small number of people have picked favourites and we have absolutely no idea what the return on investment is, is outrageous, and most South Australians are wondering really what the point of that is unless it can be proven to have been a worthwhile investment.

So if the government is to be believed with their press release, this will prove it was a worthwhile investment, or let's hope it gives us some certainty that should LIV have loved us and left us that we will have some certainty in the future that we will not be left picking up the bill for an investment we have made, thinking that they would be here for four years, in assets as we have seen with the car race, with requirements to set up an event from scratch that would have been thought would be then costed across four years, not just one or not just two, and made that investment more worthwhile. It will be interesting to see if we are entitled to any recompense if LIV, as I say, has left us after loving us.

I thank again the Hon. Frank Pangallo and SA-Best for their support. I note that both SA-Best and the opposition raised concerns particularly about influencers but I would say that Sam Smith is not an influencer. They are a global superstar. They are a global superstar: they are not an influencer. Sure, influencers attended the Sam Smith d'Arenberg Cube event—

The Hon. F. Pangallo interjecting:

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: You did. Frank, you did.

The Hon. F. Pangallo interjecting:

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Yes, which is why I wrote it down and thought I would correct it. They are a global superstar. The fact that there has been a dog-whistling campaign around the Sam Smith event I think is somewhat unfortunate.

I do think that the events in South Australia need to be run with things like the responsible provision of alcohol and a return on investment being transparent. I point to the auditing work that the Adelaide Fringe had done comparing various events in our state. Some events we enjoy, some events we know are a good return on investment. We should be able to actually know all events and how they are in terms of not just enjoyment but return on investment. With that, I commend the motion.

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