TV host Lisa Wilkinson has been slammed for her criticism of Gina Rinehart’s decision to cancel a $15m sponsorship deal with Netball Australia.
The Project host faced a wave of criticism after she said on Sunday that it was “really naive” to expect netballers would not take a stance on political issues and that Rinehart should have remained as a sponsor.
The comments came after members of the national netball team complained about being sponsored by Rinehart’s company because of racist comments her father made in 1984.
Rinehart resisted calls for her to repudiate comments by her now-deceased father and tore up the lucrative deal, leaving Netball Australia in deep financial trouble.
Wilkinson threw her support behind the players, telling her television co-hosts: “The idea that sport and politics and issues of social justice can be completely separated is really naive.”
“You think back to the Australian teams that wouldn't tour South Africa during the apartheid era,” she said.
“You even think about things like big tobacco used to sponsor the NRL. It was called the Winfield Cup.”
But viewers were quick to point out that Rinehart had no obligation to apologise for things she did not say.
If Wilkinson and her husband Pete FizSimons were worried about Netball Australia losing sponsorship, then she could chip in some of her own fortune, some said.
Channel Seven entertainment reporter Peter Ford tweeted: 'Lisa and Pete should kickstart a fund to replace the $15m if she's that concerned.”
Many of Ford's Twitter followers agreed.
“Lisa Wilkinson, stop whining and get started on that $15m sponsorship yourself. Stop pointing the finger and actually do something yourself,” wrote one.
Another said: “Lisa, Lisa, Lisa. Lordy lord. You want an apology AND for her to still sponsor. Here is an idea, you and the pirate [FitzSimons] sponsor them.”
Others suggested the couple could have donated money from the proceeds of alleged rape victim Brittany Higgins' $325,000 book deal, which had been arranged by FitzSimons, if it had gone ahead.
“They could use the money they make from Higgins' book,” one suggested.