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Rapper Briggs talks down to a Storm in an Indigenous Voice

Andrew Mathieson -

New disclosures from the Australian Electoral Commission has revealed that a board director of NRL club Melbourne Storm, which stood at the forefront of supporting the 'Yes' campaign, donated $175,000 to fight against an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

Brett Ralph's payments to Advance, formerly Advance Australia, were never divulged ahead of last year's referendum and was in stark contrast to the stance that the rugby league club had expressed publicly.

Ralph made three donations from 2020 until 2023 of $50,000 each on two occasions, including once last year, and a further $75,000 in the 2021-22 financial year after finding out the Federal government intended to enshrine the Uluru Statement from the Heart into the Constitution.

The part-owner of the club, who has a 20 per cent stake in the Storm, secretly donated through one of his companies, JMR Management Consultancy Services to Advance.

The conservative lobby group had been gifted a number of financial contributions from wealthy donors that must be declared.

The documents were released on Thursday full of fresh political donations, but none more shocking than those of Ralph's.

The latest revelations has Adam Briggs, a disillusioned lifelong Storm fan, rapper, and comedian, not only withdrawing his support for the club indefinitely, but mistrusting the club's ethics and integrity, and the legitimacy of its support for Indigenous people.

The Storm has been participating in the NRL Indigenous Round since it began in 2010 while Aunty Joy Murphy has repeatedly been asked to perform a Welcome to Country ceremony while Storm players line up in their annual Indigenous jumpers.

The Yorta Yorta man was one of a number of Aboriginal figures in Melbourne that joined thousands in support of the 'Yes' campaign during a solidarity march before the October 14 vote.

"What we are confronted with are the questionable values of the Melbourne Storm," Briggs told Nine media on Friday.

"The board and club presenting one thing to the public and member base, while doing another behind the scenes.

"Questionable actions and values is what had Storm stripped of premierships."

The stripping of premierships that Briggs was referencing was of the Storm rorting their salary cap on overpaying players' wages that began in 2006 and ended in 2010, costing Melbourne a second and a third NRL title in 2007 and 2009.

Briggs had penned a letter to the club days following the referendum after donations since campaigning were revealed a month earlier, believing the intent was to peddle, fearmonger and amplify misinformation against Indigenous people..

At that stage, it was only exposed that Ralph had paid $75,000 from the previous financial year.

"Do Brett Ralph's values align with those of the Storm at large, and can the Melbourne Storm Rugby League (Club) continue to support both Brett Ralph, and the culture and identity of its First Nation people? I think not," Briggs wrote.

The Storm had since contacted Briggs to invite him to attend a meeting with both the club's administration and Ralph.

Briggs agreed to hear both parties out but more than four months on from the letter, they have are yet to sit down and reconcile.

More details in the letter that was addressed to Storm chairman Matthew Tripp said: "The No campaign actively devalued my people, my Yorta Yorta/Wurundjeri identity. It has heightened the stereotypes of devaluing our contribution to the Australian society and nationhood, and enhanced the burden of irrelevance. In doing so, it added to the already endless workload of myself, my father, and the Indigenous community," Briggs added.

Ralph has never publicly validated the reasons for standing behind the club over the Voice while counterproductively pouring money into an organisation that provided opposition to the Indigenous cause.

Melbourne Storm has also failed to respond to a list of emailed questions from the National Indigenous Times about Ralph still being allowed to stand on the board and continue his vested control of ownership .

There is also no acknowledgement of the matter on the Storm's website.

Storm Group also owns Super Netball team Sunshine Coast Lightning.

Ralph sits on the board of NBL club Melbourne United and chairs the Melbourne Aces baseball team as well, while owning a small slice of Dick Johnson Racing team in the Supercars motor racing series, and with his wife a lesser stake in the Brisbane Broncos.

Melbourne United boss Nick Truelson, unlike the Storm, was quick to get on the front foot, saying the actions of Ralph did not represent the views of his basketball team.

"We encourage those interested to properly consider the true nature of Melbourne United's focus on and contribution to the Indigenous community," Truelson said in a statement.

"Whether it be our multicultural game, Indigenous round, or any of the substantial work we do within our community, we are taking real action to achieve our purpose of using the power of basketball to inspire, entertain and enrich people's lives."


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