AFL 'no place for discrimination': PM

·2-min read

The AFL is no place for discrimination, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says, after a horror week for the code.

His comments come after unnamed former Indigenous Hawthorn club players made sickening allegations about their treatment by team coaches and personnel.

The AFL is setting up a four-person panel of investigators, led by a King's Counsel, to examine the racism claims.

This includes allegations that ex-Hawthorns coach Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan, a former senior assistant coach to Clarkson and general manager of football, told a player and his partner to terminate their pregnancy and separate so the player could focus on football. Both have denied the claims.

"I do want to acknowledge that this has been a difficult week for the AFL," Mr Albanese told guests at the annual North Melbourne Grand Final Breakfast on Saturday.

"We know that discrimination has no part in our game, just as we know discrimination has no part in our nation."

Mr Albanese also used the breakfast to highlight his push for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, referencing the Welcome to Country ceremony that will be held ahead of Saturday's grand final clash between the Sydney Swans and Geelong Cats.

"It's what we do at big events. It's a sign of respect," he said.

"It's something we should extend of course to recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our nation's birth certificate, our constitution."

AFL Commission chairman Richard Goyder also acknowledged the racism scandal and this week's "harrowing" claims.

"We must ensure that everyone is truly welcome and truly safe in our game," he said.

Outgoing AFL chief executive Gil McLachlan, who leaves at the end of the year, has flagged he may stay longer to deal with the "challenges" at Hawthorn.

"That obviously has to be sorted for both the complainants and those accused and that will be done," Mr McLachlan said.

"It is ... incredibly important that gets resolved and it's on foot now."

Federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton used his speech at the breakfast to talk politics, comparing the major parties to AFL clubs.

He said Labor was like Melbourne, a club with a few great seasons that would ultimately "disappoint their fans".

Mr Dutton likened the coalition to the Brisbane Lions, "formed by a merger of convenience" and hoping to win a premiership in three years.

The racism allegations were reported by the ABC on Wednesday following an investigation commissioned by Hawthorn earlier in the year.

Clarkson's November 1 start at his new club, North Melbourne, has been delayed. Fagan, who had moved to the Brisbane Lions in 2016, has taken a leave of absence from the club.

The furore prompted AFL great Eddie Betts to call on all clubs to conduct similar reviews of their historical treatment of Indigenous players.