Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has thrown his support behind Tasmania being awarded an AFL license but the construction of a new stadium remains in dispute a week out from a key meeting.
The AFL will meet with the club presidents, who the league is asking for approval on expansion, by September 6 but CEO Gillon McLachlan did not confirm whether the vote to approve Tasmania would take place at that meeting.
A final proposal is yet to be tabled for the presidents given the ongoing dialogue about whether a new stadium will be built in Hobart and who will pay for it.
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Speaking at the National Press Club, the Prime Minister was asked about Tasmania’s chances.
“I hope Tassie does get an AFL team. Tasmania has produced some great champions in AFL over a long period of time,” he said.
“They’ve had of course Hawthorn, the team I support, who played at – I’m not sure what it’s called these days, it was Aurora Stadium at one stage, in Launny (Launceston). And of course North who play in Hobart.
“But that’s a decision for the AFL to make.”
McLachlan has previously said building a new stadium was required for Tasmania’s bid to succeed and on Monday he said “nothing’s changed” on that point.
“What form that takes, whether it’s a conditional issue or something more definitive, we’ll work through that,” he said.
“This is our national game with incredible facilities and I know the Tasmanian government and Tasmanians expect to have that centrepiece of a functional facility of pride, the way Adelaide Oval is in South Australia, the way Optus (Stadium) is in Perth, the way the MCG and Marvel (Stadium) are for Melburnians.
“I don’t think Tasmanians would want a team without a new stadium. That’s what the deal’s going to be and nothing’s changed about that.”
The funding and cost for the stadium remain the key point in dispute. So far Tasmania has offered $150 million in funding, including $10 million a year over 10 years.
Premier Jeremy Rockliff’s government is also producing a $1.25 million feasibility study with estimates of the stadium’s cost rising as high as $750 million.
“We’ve put forward a very strong bid and the AFL has said it is a strong bid,” Rockliff said.
“We believe that bid can support an AFL licence for Tasmania. We are still in discussions and there is a lot to work through.
“This is a significant government and taxpayer investment and we want to do our due diligence to get this right.”