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Thursday, 18 June 2020
Page: 5022

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (11:41): This morning, residents of the Illawarra woke to this screaming headline from our local paper.

Mr Zimmerman interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Llew O'Brien ): Order! Yes, I take the point of order.

Mr STEPHEN JONES: The rules in relation to props might apply, but the rules in relation to decency have not applied when it comes to the National Basketball League's treatment of the Illawarra Hawks. The Illawarra Hawks have a long, proud tradition as a community club. It's the only club with 41 continuous years playing in the National Basketball League. It has a loyal fan base, a very loyal fan base. We have regularly provided players to the national team, the Australian Boomers. It's been through scrapes. There've been years where we've run short of cash. We probably wouldn't have got through to the end of the year and were uncertain about whether we'd reregister next year, but the community have rallied around the club to ensure that it can continue for another year.

Yesterday the National Basketball League announced that it had sold the licence for the Illawarra Hawks, and a condition of that sale was removing the name 'Illawarra' from the nameplate of the club. It's an egregious act of corporate theft. Today I am launching a petition aimed at the NBL, demanding that they put the name back. The club is not just a brand; it's a heritage, a memory. It's about the wins, the celebration of the wins, the highs and the lows, and the losses. We're a tribe. And if you separate that tribe from the club—if you separate the name from the region—then all you have is an empty logo.

The commissioners of the NBL think the logo is the team. They think the logo is the club. They think the club is interchangeable with the brand. Well, I've got a message for the commissioners of the National Basketball League: the brand is not the club. The club is its loyal fan base, the players, the people who've supported the club through thick and thin. If they think that a club is just a brand, I ask them to think about this: people don't queue up for hours to buy tickets to sit in a cold stadium to watch Coles head off against Woolworths. People don't go to the State of Origin to barrack for XXXX over Tooheys. They go there to barrack for their local team. It's about the local team. If the National Basketball League think we're going to stand for this, they've got another think coming. Our petition demands that the National Basketball League put the Illawarra back into the Hawks.