Legislative Council: Tuesday, November 01, 2022


LIV Golf Tournament

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:52): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question on the topic of sportswashing and the LIV Golf tournament to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, representing the Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: LIV Golf has been dubbed by themselves as, 'golf as you have never seen it' but, by critics, as golf that sportswashes the human rights abuses they don't want you to see—or raise. The LIV Golf series is a large-scale effort to sportswash Saudi Arabia's human rights record and improve its global image.

The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is the majority shareholder of this controversial new tour. Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman is chairman of the Public Investment Fund. The Crown Prince now wants to realise his 'Vision 2030' plan of making the country more modern and less dependent on oil money.

Investments in sport play a key role in this plan, but human rights organisations have accused those in power in Saudi Arabia of sportswashing; that is, trying to use top level sporting events to distract from their human rights violations. The Crown Prince Bin Salman himself, for example, is suspected of being behind the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Jamal Khashoggi was the US-based journalist and critic of Saudi Arabia's government who was murdered in 2018 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where his body was then dismembered. Concerningly, when asked about Khashoggi, 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.'

Further, the Public Investment Fund invested $2 billion into Russian assets before the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Further, Saudi Arabia is on the list of countries importing cheap Russian oil, despite Western sanctions, and has continued to invest in top Russian energy companies.

As some members of the council may be aware, the Premier has welcomed the LIV Golf International Series potentially coming to Grange in South Australia in 2023, last month informing 7NEWS that he had 'not seen much evidence of the USPGA doing Australian golf and supporters any favours recently', and stating, 'I think it's about time golf had a bit of a shake-up,' and going on to state, 'I wish LIV Golf all the very best.'

Other countries and states have been far less welcoming of this tour, and most recently they were met with a frosty reception in Washington DC. My questions to the minister are:

1. Does the minister recognise that hosting an event that has been accused of being a way for the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund to participate in sportswashing to distract from its human rights abuses might not be a good look for the state of South Australia?

2. When the Premier wishes them 'all the best', will those good wishes be matched with any public moneys or promotion and, if so, to what quantum?

3. Given the lengths this government has now recently gone to, as has the parliament, to divest from Russian assets, does it make any sense then for South Australia to be playing such a welcoming host to a tournament funded by a body that continues to fund those very same Russian assets?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:56): I thank the honourable member for her questions. I will refer them to my colleague in the other place and bring back a response.