back to top

15 Politicians Who Dared To Mix Sport And Politics At The AFL And NRL Grand Finals

So much for sport not being political.

Posted on

A few weeks ago former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott decided that sport and politics shouldn't mix because sport is sport, guys! And Macklemore is a rapper!

Footy fans shouldn't be subjected to a politicised grand final. Sport is sport!

Despite these sage words from a known amateur athlete, MPs and senators from all political codes took time out of their weekend to attend the AFL and NRL grand finals and get politics all mixed up in sport.

We're still a few months away from finding out how much taxpayers' money politicians claimed for their trips to the grand finals.

But let's take a look at how many visited the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the AFL grand final on Saturday September 30 between Richmond Tigers and Adelaide Crows, and ANZ Stadium in Sydney for the NRL grand final on Sunday October 1 between North Queensland Cowboys and Melbourne Storm.

1. Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull was at the G on the Saturday, where he backed Richmond Tigers by five points in the AFL. They won by 48.

What a win. Well done Peggy and congratulations @Richmond_FC #AFLGF

2. Labor leader Bill Shorten was sitting in front of AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan on the Saturday, cheering for the Tigers.

Instagram: @billshortenmp

3. Greens leader Richard Di Natale was throwing back beers and cheering on the Tigers at the AFL.

Facebook: senatordinatale

He was also spotted in Tigerland wearing a scarf he knitted aged 12!

Greens leader @RichardDiNatale in Tigerland with the scarf he knitted at 12 years old.

4. Foreign minister Julie Bishop attended her fourth AFL grand final in a row where she was a VIP guest of the AFL Commission.

Joe Castro / AAPIMAGE

As revealed by BuzzFeed News in June, Bishop charged taxpayers more than $3,500 so she could attend last year's AFL grand final. She's spent more than $8,000 on grand finals in three years.

No word yet on how much taxpayers coughed up for JBish to attend this year.


7. Minister Kelly O'Dwyer and her husband were at the AFL, and she has already claimed her attendance as a guest of the Seven Network. She didn't post any pic tho, just this emoji tweet.

8. Melbourne Liberal MP Tim Wilson cheered on the Tigers care of two free tickets from the National Australia Bank (NAB).

Facebook: TimWilsonForGoldstein

9. Ballarat Labor MP Catherine King also went to the AFL grand final as a guest of the Victorian Employee Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Facebook: CatherineKingMP

11. Nationals Victorian senator Bridget McKenzie was on board the Tiger train at the AFL, telling her Facebook page she loved the pre-game entertainment by The Killers.

Facebook: senatormckenzie

Turnbull was back at it the following day, holding a beer in a fancy glass and backing the North Queensland Cowboys by 4 at the NRL grand final. They lost.

Instagram: @turnbullmalcolm

The opposition leader also rocked up at ANZ stadium with his son on the Sunday night to congratulate the Melbourne Storm on their NRL grand final win.

Good work tonight boys! @storm #GoStorm #NRLGF

12. Townsville Labor MP Cathy O'Toole flew down to Sydney for the NRL grand final.

Facebook: CathyOTooleMP


Scott Ryan attended an earlier NRL grand final in Melbourne. An earlier version of this story said he attended the final in Sydney.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at

Josh Taylor is a Senior Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Josh Taylor at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.