Some of you have commendably spoken up strongly in support of him, and I cite you, particularly, Marina Go, Nick Politis, Bart Campbell and Mal Meninga.
Some of you however, still don’t get it. Some of you think that we can continue doing things the same way we have been doing them, putting players charged with the most heinous crimes out on the field as if nothing has happened, as if it is all fine, and we can just get on with business as usual.
Who wants to be associated with that? Who wants to pay money to watch it, put their own name next to an ever more toxic «brand»?
You are the ones I seek to address here today.
For I am here to say, you can’t just keep going on the way we have been. You want to talk «business» as usual?
If only we could lock in some of the business of times gone by, with great ticket sales, sponsorships and ratings. But those numbers – you all know it – are all falling and one of the key reasons is because in recent times rugby league has practically become a byword for violence, sexual assault, criminal calamity.
Who wants to be associated with that? Who wants to pay money to watch it, put their own name next to an ever more toxic «brand», if you will?
The answer is, fewer and fewer, and there is no denying that sober reality.
So, from purely a business sense, we need to hold accountable all those players who are trashing our reputation. Can you see any other business, anywhere else in our brown and pleasant land, that would not hold accountable those employees who are most hurting them?
Go on, name one.
Name another sport, another group of people, another profession that has created more of these headlines
Exactly. There are none – at least none that expect to survive.
By voting for Mr Beattie’s proposal you are not pre-judging their guilt or innocence before the law. You are saying your guilt or innocence on those criminal charges is for the law to determine, not us.
But in the meantime we are holding you accountable for what you have already demonstrably done to our reputation, for the hurt you have done to our entire business.
But there is, I kid you not, a higher reason for us to act than mere ratings and revenue.
We’ve got to change. As a people, as a community, as a country, we simply can’t go on the way we have been, with the current appalling levels of violence, of sexual assault, of mistreatment of women. It is incumbent on every sector of society to clean up their own mess and few sectors have made more mess in these fields than rugby league.
You dispute it?
Go on, name one.
Name another sport, another group of people, another profession that has created more of these headlines than we have.
I rest my case.
And I repeat. We have a moral duty to change our culture, to clean up our act. What we do know, after this summer from hell, is that the way we have been doing things is not working. So have to change, by starting with the bleeding obvious, which is to start changing the whole culture, making people held accountable, making it clear that of our touchstones, the way we treat women is paramount – as it is the very area where we have been most disgraceful in recent times.
Voting for Peter Beattie’s simple proposal is a bare beginning to changing that culture, but a beginning it is. And we have no choice.
Over to you, Mr Beattie.
Peter FitzSimons is a journalist and columnist with The Sydney Morning Herald.