House debates

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Statements by Members

Newcastle Electorate: Rugby League

1:51 pm

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | | Hansard source

A grave injustice is being foisted upon rugby league fans, and ABC Radio Newcastle rugby league fans in particular. On 13 July, Newcastle Herald columnist Barry Toohey broke the news that long-time rugby league caller Craig Hamilton would not be calling Newcastle Knights home games next year and that the Titans clash on 31 August would be his last call. A replacement caller, part of the Grandstand NRL team, will travel up from Sydney to call the games to bring 'consistency' to the call across the state.

Well, Aunty, Knights followers who have contacted me are not interested in 'consistency' across the state. They want to hear Hammo's voice on the radio. Let me be clear: Hammo still has a full-time job at ABC Newcastle and will be part of the league coverage. He just will not call Knights home games. But Hammo's calls are what Knights fans expect. He's been doing it for 15 years. As one constituent wrote to me: 'Craig is a tremendous asset to the local and regional community, and the decision to drop him from calling Knights home games is certainly not supporting local radio and not a good use of the ABC budget. We all know Craig is the best person for this job, and we all know how important rugby league is in this area.'

The Knights are a religion in Newcastle and Hammo is part of that religion. Hammo's call must go on!