AFL boss McLachlan not worried about Tassie upheaval

·3-min read
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The AFL will not consider pulling out of its expansion into Tasmania, despite the planned new stadium in Hobart causing chaos within the state's parliament.

Premier Jeremy Rockliff's government was forced into minority status last week after Liberal MPs Lara Alexander and John Tucker quit the party over concerns about the planned $715m stadium in Hobart.

Thousands of people protested outside state parliament on Saturday, with unease over debt and government transparency about the funding of the proposed Macquarie Point complex.

Tasmanian Opposition Leader Rebecca White on Tuesday declared Labor would campaign to have the stadium scrapped, and expects there to be an election this year.

Rockliff is in charge of the last remaining Liberal government in Australia.

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan is not concerned about the AFL's 19th team falling over, and said he would not intervene in Tasmania's political situation.

"I just think this is an incredibly important moment for Tasmania and Tasmanian football," he said at Marvel Stadium on Tuesday.

"If you want an AFL team, it comes with a stadium, and people have had their views about that, but it's now funded."

The Tasmanian government will spend $375m on the 23,000-seat stadium, while the Commonwealth will chip in $240m.

"It is something that comes together, you can't have one without the other," McLachlan said about the stadium being a requirement for Tasmania's licence.

"It's actually now a moment that will actually change Tasmania."

He pointed to the redevelopment of Adelaide Oval and the build of Optus Stadium in Perth as transforming those cities' CBDs.

"It's easy to oppose things, it's easy to point to alternate uses of capital," McLachlan said.

"But actually the business case around this is about tourism, construction, economic impact, pride.

"But in the end, I think Tasmania wants an AFL team.

"The deal is funded, and I'll let the politics play out day-to-day.

"Absolutely it's reasonable for individuals and others to have their views."

White said Tasmanian Labor would actively campaign against the stadium ahead of the next state election.

"We will always have the view that Tasmanian taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook," she told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

"What we're asking the government to disclose is what deal has been done with the AFL, because we do support the team.

"We don't believe a stadium is the right priority for Tasmanian taxpayers to be funding in the middle of a health, housing and cost-of-living crisis."

Rockliff hit back at White's stance.

"Any suggestion we can have a team without a stadium is just fanciful. It will not happen," he said.

"Without the stadium, the team is dead, as are over 4000 jobs, and billions into our economy.

"Ms White must now explain to all Tasmanians, including the many kids who were overjoyed when we were granted our licence, why she will kill off our AFL team, once and for all."

Tasmania will be the first expansion team since GWS entered the AFL in 2012.

A men's team will join the AFL in 2028. The timeline for a women's side is yet to be worked out.