The AFL’s new chief of inclusion and social policy has backed the league’s decision not to punish Eddie McGuire after he was widely condemned for bullying comments directed at Fairfax journalist Caroline Wilson.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan announced Tanya Hosch, a former joint campaign director of the Recognise movement for constitutional reform, would take up the newly-created role at a press conference at AFL House on Wednesday.
The AFL was criticised on Monday after McLachlan chose not to sanction McGuire and accepted that an apology was the appropriate response to his controversial comments regarding Wilson.
“I think the AFL has made it clear that what happened was unacceptable and I’m pleased about that,” Hosch said.
“I’m not sure that fines necessarily have the impact that we want them to have when it comes to these sorts of matters.”
McLachlan didn’t seek Hosch’s counsel on the issue but said that would be an important part of her role in future.
McGuire, North Melbourne chairman James Brayshaw and All Australian selector Danny Frawley were at the centre of a public outcry after suggesting on Triple M that Wilson should be dunked and held under the water of the charity ice slide at the AFL’s Freeze MND charity match.
All three offered public apologies for their part in the exchange.
On Tuesday, the league fined North Melbourne and coach Brad Scott a combined $80,000 for his broadside at the umpires following North’s loss to Hawthorn last week, but McLachlan said it was unfair to draw parallels between the AFL’s handing of the two issues.
“These are distinct issues – there are specific rules around commenting on umpires,” McLachlan said.
“With respect to Eddie … it’s questionable whether we have the ability to fine Eddie, that’s debatable. We weren’t his employer in that situation.
“But it was still a clear advice to me and my clear view that an apology was appropriate in this circumstance.”
McLachlan said the public conversation highlighting the issue of violence against women had been an important outcome, with the league boss happy for his response to be debated.
Richmond will boycott Triple M this weekend in response to the controversy – a course of action McLachlan supports.