Jeff Kennett Hawthorn board of directors: President lashes out at ‘unemployed’ ex-minister James Merlino

Jeff Kennett has teeed off on former Deputy Victorian Prime Minister James Merlino, who is running for the Hawthorn board, which Kennett will leave in a matter of weeks.

Merlino, who recently resigned from state politics, is part of a push that includes former Hawk Andy Gowers to bring fresh faces to Hawthorn’s board of directors when Kennett’s second term as president ends this year.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Jeff Kennett tees off on James Merlino.

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Kennett’s replacement will be either incumbent board member Peter Nankivell or Gowers, who are the only two candidates for the post.

Kennett is an advocate of the status quo to avoid disruption and wants both Gowers and Merlino to be avoided.

The regularly outspoken former Victorian Liberal leader and Prime Minister took to Twitter to launch a barrage of barbs at Merlino, the former Labor minister.

“Out of work James Merlino, who jumped out of the disastrous Andrews administration, now wants to join the Hawthorn Board on a governance platform,” Kennett tweeted.

“Pause me if he was worried about governance, why didn’t he apply that when he was in Cabinet?

“Now he wants to infect a big club. No way!”

Jeff Kennett teed off on James Merlino. Recognition: Getty

Kennett called Merlino’s offer to join the board a step backwards on diversity.

“Grab James Merino (sic), the recently retired Andrews Minister and Andrew Gowers are part of a political push to be elected to the Hawthorn Football Club board, part of a ginger group seeking diversity on the board,” he wrote.

“But her group has never, and has not now, seen it as right or found a woman to nominate for the board, even though half our members are women and we have two women’s teams.

“Diversity! They want to turn the clock so that the HFC is an all-male club. The board supports 3 women for the board 2 who are already in office.”

Kennett is known for his outspokenness, particularly on Twitter, particularly against the Andrews government, which Gowers believe puts the club at risk of losing promised government funding at a time when they desperately need it for their new Dingley training facility .

Hawks legends Gary Ayres (centre), Darrin Pritchard (left) and Andrew Gowers (right) pose with the 1991 AFL Premiership Cup. Recognition: Daniel Pocket/Getty Images

They are believed to be short of $25 million for the new training base, with the Victorian Government still holding back on a $15 million pledge.

“Every Hawthorn member knows that hasn’t helped our club,” Gowers told SEN.

“It certainly doesn’t help our cause when we seek funding for the Kennedy Community Center and we know there is money that needs to be sent to Hawthorn at the right time… it’s not in our coffers.

“This is hurting our ability to develop the Kennedy Community Center and it was recently announced that it would be delayed another year.

“Hawthorn members are smart, they understand that Jeff is a former Prime Minister, a former Liberal leader. That is clear; That is understandable.

“This platform has given us a lot of ammunition as a club. Some of it was really good, but some of it doesn’t help us and doesn’t help our cause.

“So I remind Hawthorn members that the Kennett presidency and the Nankivell vice presidency are the current era. I want to change that, I want to introduce a new broom.”

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The Brownlow Medal betting scandal intensifies as calls rise to end umpires’ voting duties. Jeff Kennett Hawthorn board of directors: President lashes out at ‘unemployed’ ex-minister James Merlino

James Brien

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