Political Upheaval Looms Over Tasmania’s AFL Dream

Ben H / 15 May 2023

The joy of Tasmania’s AFL licence grant is still fresh, but the team’s future already hangs in the balance. MPs Lara Alexander and John Tucker’s resignation from the Tasmanian Liberal Party has caused a stir. Their departure was a protest against the government’s decision to invest $375 million in a new stadium.

This funding is part of a $715 million new Macquarie Point stadium scheme. The stadium is proposed to be the home ground for Tasmania’s AFL team.

The Team-Stadium Connection

The government has been clear: the team’s existence depends on the stadium. This was reiterated in response to Labor and Greens’ objections over the stadium expenditure. The AFL agreement states that a new stadium is vital for the team’s survival. Without it, the team may cease to exist.

The Path Forward

Despite the political turmoil, the stadium’s construction isn’t directly tied to legislative approval. Even with a minority government, the stadium and the team’s future remain secure.

The government aims to designate the stadium as a major project once the Macquarie Point master plan is updated. After this, it will be assessed by an independent Tasmanian planning commission panel.

AFL Chief’s Assurance

AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan has assured that the deal with the state government is not under threat. He firmly responded that the stadium and the team would proceed irrespective of the minority government.

Premier’s Stance

Premier Jeremy Rockliff remains committed to the stadium project. Rockliff and potential successor Michael Ferguson aim to see contracts signed and construction begun swiftly.

However, if the project backtracks, the government would need to renegotiate the deal with the AFL and possibly abandon Tasmania’s AFL dream.

The Uniqueness of the Situation

This situation is emotionally complex. The stadium and the team are deeply intertwined — to kill one is to kill both.

This connection is amplified by the emotional investment of Tasmanians eagerly awaiting their AFL team.

Political Implications

The Liberal Government is now in a precarious position with the departure of two of its members.

The opposition, namely Labor and the Greens, now have powerful ammunition that could be used in the political arena.

Labor will need to choose a side: either reluctantly accept the stadium’s necessity or withdraw their support for the Tasmanian team.

AFL’s Position

The AFL must be feeling a sense of déjà vu. They had previously withheld granting Tasmania a team due to concerns about division, politics, economics, and lack of viability.

But, despite Mr McLachlan’s confidence, there must have been a moment of “I told you so” echoing through AFL headquarters.

The future of Tasmania’s AFL dream is uncertain, with the outcome impacting not just Australian Football in Tasmania but also the state’s political landscape.

However, Tasmania’s AFL dream is more than just a sport; it’s a testament to the state’s identity, spirit, and resilience.

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Ben H
Ben Harris is the Communications Manager for KRUZEY, an AFL expert, and writer. He has one daughter that he loves dearly and four children's books... [Read full bio]

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