Jeff Kennett has teed off at former Victorian Deputy Premier James Merlino, who is making a run for the Hawthorn board that Kennett is due to depart in a matter of weeks.
Merlino, who has recently stepped down from state politics, is part of a push that includes former Hawk Andy Gowers to bring change to Hawthorn’s board with fresh faces when Kennett’s second term as president finishes this year.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Jeff Kennett tees off on James Merlino.
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Kennett’s successor will be either incumbent board member Peter Nankivell or Gowers, who are the only two nominees for the job.
Kennett is an advocate for the status quo to avoid disruption and wants both Gowers and Merlino to be shunned.
The regularly outspoken former Victorian Liberal leader and premier took to Twitter to send a barrage of barbs towards Merlino, the former Labor minister.
“Unemployed James Merlino, having jumped the Andrews disastrous government now wants to join the Hawthorn Board on a platform of governance,” Kennett tweeted.
“Give me a break, if he was concerned about governance why did he not apply that when in cabinet.
“Now he wants to infect a great club. No way!”
Kennett labelled Merlino’s bid to join the board as a step backwards in diversity.
“Grab this James Merino (sic), recently retired Andrews Minister and Andrew Gowers are part of a political push to gain election to the Board of the Hawthorn Football Club, part of a ginger group that seeks diversity on the board,” he wrote.
“But their group have never nor now seen fit, or found one woman to nominate for the board, even though half our members are women, and we have two women’s team.
“Diversity! They want to turn the clock to HFC being a men’s club only. The board is supporting 3 women for the board 2 who are already serving.”
Kennett is famously outspoken on Twitter in particular, especially against the Andrews government which, Gowers believes, puts the club in danger of losing promised government funding at a time when they desperately need it for their new Dingley training facility.
It’s understood they are $25 million short for the new training base, with the Victorian government still withholding a $15 million commitment.
“Every Hawthorn member knows that has not helped our club,” Gowers told SEN.
“It certainly doesn’t help our cause when we’re looking for funding for the Kennedy Community Centre, and we know there’s money to be transferred to Hawthorn at the right time … that’s not in our coffers.
“That damages our opportunity to develop the Kennedy Community Centre, and recently it’s been announced that’s been delayed by a further year.
“Hawthorn members are smart, they understand that Jeff is a former premier, a former Liberal leader. That’s clear; that’s understandable.
“That platform has given us as a club a lot of ammunition. Some of that has been really good, but some of that doesn’t help us and doesn’t help our cause.
“That is why I’m reminding Hawthorn members that the Kennett presidency and the Nankivell vice-presidency is the current era, I’m looking to change that, I’m looking to bring in a new broom.”
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