FYI.

This story is over 5 years old.

Sports

​David Koch: Today's Anti-Racism Crusader Is Yesterday's Pauline Hanson Mouthpiece

Can Port Power CEO David Koch really be trusted to clean up the Eddie Betts racism problem?
August 26, 2016, 4:55am
Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

When Port Power CEO David Koch fronted the media following the Eddie Betts racism scandal, he spoke powerfully and emotionally about the need to stamp out racism in all its forms.

"It has absolutely no part in footy and no part of the Port Adelaide Football Club. It hurts us. We take it personally, because we pride ourselves on having the most number of Aboriginal players playing for an AFL club and we have award-winning Aboriginal community programs," he said.

Advertisement

Eddie Betts, the Adelaide Crows footballing wizard at the centre of it, responded in kind, thanking Koch for his support and asking the public to forgive the woman responsible for throwing the banana at him.

"She came out and she apologised, I don't hold grudges — I forgive her for what she's done and I think everyone else should as well," he told radio program 5AA.

"She's seeking help and you know, it's never too late to learn.

"And a life ban, I don't think she should get a life ban."

"You know everyone enjoys their footy, you've just got to be careful what you do or what you say at the footy," he said.

"Just let her be in peace now I guess, go on in her life with peace because I know she's got a lot of abusing messages on social media and all that so like I said, I've forgiven her and so should all of you."

Betts has been nothing short of heroic. He has long campaigned against racism in the game, continuing the stoic work of Nicky Winmar, Adam Goodes and many other proud black men before him. David Koch, on the other hand, has been pivotal in the resurgence of right-wing extremism in Australia.

Earlier this year his morning television program, Sunrise, on the Channel 7 network, paid Australia's most high profile critic of Aboriginals, minorities, Islam and refugees thousands of dollars to deliver what many claim are extreme right-wing views on the show. Between October 2015 and July 4th 2016, Hanson appeared on the program 15 times, covering topics from flag-burning to vaccinations, literacy and housing affordability. Though it was her appearance on the program in the wake of terror attacks in Australia and Paris that drew the most criticism. "We need to revise what the teachings are in the Koran. It is about the killing and beheading of the non-believers,'" she told thousands of viewers.

Advertisement

Many have credited Koch's Sunrise program with being the single biggest force in breathing life into Pauline Hanson's dormant political career, giving her the springboard which allowed her to win four senate seats in this year's federal election. Prior to her appearances on the program, she had all but disappeared from Australian public life following her first attempt at a political career 20 years ago, which ended in abject failure. On that occasion she had warned Australia was "in danger of being swamped by Asians" and fed the inaccurate and hurtful stereotype that Aboriginals were lazy welfare recipients. She was disendorsed by the Liberal party in 1994 after calling on the government to end its assistance of Aboriginals.

"Along with millions of Australians, I am fed up to the back teeth with the inequalities that are being promoted by the government and paid for by the taxpayer under the assumption that Aboriginals are the most disadvantaged people in Australia," she said, despite Aboriginal Australians experiencing an indigenous infant mortality rate more than twice that of non-indigenous children; a death rate five times that of non-indigenous Australians; and an incarceration rate among juveniles 24 times that of non-indigenous Australians.

Koch might have conveniently forgotten Hanson's role in fuelling white scorn against Aboriginal Australians, but Gulf Aboriginal leader, Murrandoo Yanner definitely didn't, delivering this robust spray at the One Nation leader earlier this year after she turned up at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

Advertisement

South Australia, the home of Port Power, meanwhile, has a long history of aboriginal racism, slaughter and persecution. In 2011, the mayor of one of Port Power's fanbases, the town of Port Augusta, threatened to set the dog squad on aboriginals planning to camp in the area.

"They will not camp illegally in my city," Ms Baluch said. "We have got the police, we have got a dog squad and I would arrange merry hell," she said.

As the response to the Eddie Betts incident continues, Koch has been quick to pat himself on the back for the work he and his club is doing to stamp out racism. Speaking on radio program 5AA, Koch revealed a conversation he'd had with Betts:

"(Eddie Betts) said I hope you're not taking this personally, because I am in awe of what your club does in terms of looking after your Aboriginal players and your community programs -- they are the best in the AFL. Don't take this too much to heart."

"I thought that's just an incredibly generous thing for him to have said … that sort of puts it in perspective."

"Eddie said, quite rightly, it can't be us against them. We're one mob and it is all about educating and learning and bringing along.

"If we can change this lady and we can change her group of friends … it's a step forward, and that's what we've got to do."

Follow Jed Smith on twitter.