Nationals senator Matt Canavan called out cricketer Pat Cummins over Alinta sponsorship protest

Australian cricket captain Pat Cummins has come under fire for protesting sponsorship by a power company while supporting a Chinese solar power brand.

Nationals senator Matt Canavan called out Cummins over Twitter on Tuesday after the high-flying cricketer held a meeting with Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley to remove one of the country’s biggest carbon emitters, Alinta Energy, as a sponsor.

‘More so than ever before you’re seeing players’ personalities and interests and passions shine through and have a bit more of a say than maybe in the past,’ Cummins boasted to Nine Newspapers on Tuesday.

Alinta received a dismal 2 out of 5 stars in this year’s Green Electricity Guide, due to their plan to burn coal to 2047, the local environmental harm they cause and their ranking as Australia’s 7th biggest polluter. 

However, Canavan called out Cummins for knocking one ‘bad’ company while supporting another. 

‘Why is the Australian cricket captain promoting a Chinese solar panel company that has been implicated in using forced Uyghur labour in Xinjiang?,’ Canavan tweeted.

Nationals senator Matt Canavan called out Pat Cummins for supporting Chinese solar power companies that use ‘slave’ labour

An article by PV Magazine Australia in February announced Cummins was ‘spearheading’ a solar campaign. 

‘Chinese PV manufacturing giant LONGi, inverter supplier Sungrow and Australia’s largest solar distributor One Stop Warehouse have donated the solar panels and inverter systems for the first stage of the program,’ it said.

Cummins was pictured alongside LONGi branding as part of his campaign.

Canavan said all solar companies based in China have been implicated in using slave labour, particularly from the abuse Uyghurs in Xijiang.

He accused Cummins on being selectively ‘ethical’ by ending sponsorship with the large Australian power company. 

‘If Pat Cummins wants to turn cricket into the morality police, I would have thought that the human rights abuses of the Chinese Communist Party might deserve more attention than a power company that helps keep the lights on for his T20 games,’ he said.

Radio host Steve Price also took the opportunity to slam Cummins’s protest while speaking on Sky News on Tuesday night. 

He said Cummins needs to ‘understand how sponsorship works’.

‘If this money dries up, sports dries up. Linton Energy are trying to do what every other company are doing, trying to be more green. But where does it stop?,’ he said.

‘Do we say “we don’t VB sponsoring us because domestic violence is fuelled by alcohol”? Are you going to take money from a Middle Eastern airline? Where does it begin and end? Seriously?’

Cricket Australia announced its four-year deal with Alinta’s will only be renewed for one more season.

‘I think the most obvious, front-of-mind things you can see is who we partner with. So I hope that when we think of who we want to align with, who we want to invite into being part of cricket, I hope climate is a real priority,’ Cummins said.

‘I’ve got my own personal views so when it comes to personal sponsorships there are some companies I wouldn’t want to align with. When we’re getting money, whether it’s programs for junior cricket, grassroots, things for fans around Australia, I feel a real responsibility that with that, we’re doing on balance what is the right thing.’

2GB breakfast host Ben Fordham also weighed in on the saga, saying sport and politics don’t mix.

He said Cummins should stick to bowling instead of telling Cricket Australia’s marketing department how to do its job.

‘The idea that the national captain is personally lobbying for his boss to cancel a $40 million sponsorship deal is just absolutely crazy,’ Fordham told listeners.

‘It’s a power company- not an outlaw bikie gang!’

Fordham said he was not suggesting sports stars take a vow of silence but said they need to be careful what ground they campaign on.

‘No industry is immune from criticism,’ he ended his rant.

‘Banks, insurance, mining companies, fast food, soft drink, alcohol, gambling, media companies.

‘If you put a line through all of them…there will be no sponsors left!’