Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission (TAC) has withdrawn its six-figure sponsorship deal with the Geelong Cats after team captain Joel Selwood was caught speeding.
Selwood will lose his licence for one month after being stopped by a highway patrol officer after overtaking another vehicle at 127km/h in a 100km/h zone while returning from a training camp in Warrnambool, south-west of Melbourne.
TAC had warned the Geelong Football Club that if another driving incident followed that of Billy Smedts, who in 2013 was caught taking a ‘selfie’ while driving and marked the sixth incident by a club player, it would withdraw a sponsorship deal that was reported to be worth $250,000 per year.
It is also the third time the state-government funded road safety organisation, which strongly pushes its ‘every kilometre over is a killer’ message, has pulled sponsorship of an AFL football club. In 2005 a 16-year Richmond Tigers deal was pulled, while three years later a Collingwood Magpies contract was torn up, in each case for drink driving offences.
“The Geelong Football Club (GFC) and the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) today confirmed the partnership between the organisations would not be renewed,” the TAC said in a statement this week.
“In January 2015 the GFC stated publicly that in the event of any further serious incidents the partnership would be relinquished, and the TAC respects the club’s integrity. Both the TAC and the Cats will continue to explore opportunities to work in the community to reduce road trauma going forward.”
Selwood told News Corp: “It was a casual drive and it [speed] just got away from me.”
“In the community I see myself as a leader and I want to make sure we are on our way to [having a road toll of] zero, just like the TAC’s messaging.”
While MOTOR readers – and anyone who has driven anywhere in Europe or even the US – would hardly see a 127km/h overtake as a licence-losing offence, and it is entirely plausible that it was safer to overtake another vehicle quickly, it is commensurate with Victoria’s reputation for having among the most overzealous anti-speed laws in the country.
While the same anti-speeding message has been pushed for more than a decade, Victoria’s road toll stagnated between 2012 and 2015, recording between 42 and 53 fatalities. That soared to a half-decade high of 66 deaths in 2016.
Had the AFL star been driving in New South Wales he would have retained his licence, where the loss of right to drive is 30km/h above the speed limit and not 25km/h as it is south of the border.