Labor’s $25 million investment to get Tasmania an AFL team

Ross Hart MP.
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3 years ago
Labor’s $25 million investment to get Tasmania an AFL team
Ross Hart MP
 HART: Hi everybody fantastic to be here today, here at  Rocherlea, a  fantastic announcement about Labor  supporting a Tasmanian team in the AFL – using a well travelled political phrase, it’s time. It’s time for a Tasmanian AFL team.
For too long Tasmania have been told they don’t deserve an AFL team. We in Labor believe that its important to support a Tasmanian AFL team, to support a road map to a Tasmanian AFL team. A Bill Shorten Labor Government will deliver $25 million as a down payment towards the delivery of an AFL team. Its subject to the AFL granting Tasmania a license and of course Labor’s commitment to grass roots football. So that’s why we are here in Rocherlea, grass roots football is vitally important to regional communities. But an AFL team is something that every Tasmanian child should aspire to play at the highest level, be they male or female, to play AFL for the state.

TOM JOHNSON, SOUTHERN CROSS: so the AFL gives Tasmania a license, Labor chips in $25 million, what is that $25 million going to go towards?

HART: Well it is going to be a substantial contribution towards getting this off the ground, obviously there still needs to be a business case, supporters, sponsors. But anybody who puts forward an argument that Tasmania can’t support a team only need to look at the kind of populations that do support a team, Geelong, GWS, look at the Gold Coast. We do deserve an AFL team, Labor’s doing something about it and it would be fantastic to see Malcolm Turnbull match this and see that we can deliver a Tasmanian AFL team.

STEFAN BOSCIA, EXAMINER: Would a future Labor Government provide ongoing contributions to a potential Tasmanian AFL team?

HART: No I think the ongoing viability of a Tasmanian AFL team is a matter for the Tasmanian community and for the normal commercial arrangements that which need to underpin any AFL team. But if we can have Tasmanian team like the Hurricanes, and a Sheffield Shield winning Cricket team, we can support our own AFL team.

JOHNSON: Doesn’t this just subsidise the big end of town though, the AFL does have a lot of money. Why is it up to Labor to pay $25 million for set up costs?

HART: The simple fact of the mater is that if we don’t make a move towards establishing a Tasmanian AFL team, it’s not going to happen. We’ve waited long enough to get an AFL team. We’ve pushed the AFL as far as we can and what have we seen recently? Obviously this is subject to the AFL granting Tasmania a license, but the important thing is that a very important and vital down payment on getting an AFL team.

BOSCIA: Do you think A Tasmanian AFL team could garner the approximate $50 million a year in sponsorship funding it would need?

HART: There is often an assumption that we would need to generate that sponsorship within the state. National and international organisations will see a Tasmanian AFL team, just as they see a team like the Hobart Hurricanes as a viable part of our Big Bash League. So its just as important that we think about this as a National competition and its not a national competition without a Tasmanian team.
JOHNSON: Gillon McLaughlan has previously said that money is not the problem, its more about the health of football in the state and being able to supply enough players for a team. Has Bill Shorten actually spoken to the AFL about this idea of giving $25 million towards a team?
HART: I can assure you that there has been attention to both aspects of the argument, firstly supporting grass roots football which is vitally important, that’s why we have made a $5 million investment to grass roots football. But the question of whether or not Tasmania can support an AFL team, is a matter for the community to get behind this. The important thing is this is a down payment on that, there have been discussions with the AFL dealing with this, but the acid is on the Tasmanian community to get behind this, and I do want Malcolm Turnbull to match this.
BOSCIA: Would you like to see the license taken away from the Gold Coast or would you prefer to see a 19th license awarded?
HART: No, its not a matter of saying a particular team should lose their license, it’s a matter for the AFL to work out whether they want a truly National competition, it’s not a National competition unless it includes Tasmania.
JOHNSON: If the Kangaroos relocated to Tasmania would that offer still be on the table?
HART: I am a Kangaroos supporter, that’s my team, it doesn’t make it a Tasmanian team.
JOHNSON: How does this idea come about it seems a little out of the blue?

HART: This has been a matter of conversations within the Labor team for a long period of time. We are seeking to get community support for an AFL team, it turns out that those conversations have gone much further than we first dared to dream about. The important thing is that it is not going to be achieved tomorrow. This is a down payment on this, the old Chinese saying, a journey starts with a first step, applies here. Unless we make this commitment, it is not going to happen.
JOHNSON: Does this have an expiry date?
HART: Well the grant of the license is part of the AFL’s prerogative, if so the AFL needs to grant the license, obviously it is not going to be open forever, but the acid is on the AFL to do something with this.
JOHNSON:  Is the idea to get the AFL to get a hurry on?
HART: Discussions I have had with people in the last couple of weeks, they are not happy with the response that has come from Gillon McLaughlan and the AFL. We do deserve an AFL team, the question of the matter is, how we best achieve that. I think this is a great down payment.

BOSCIA: Where is this coming from? Bill Shorten or the Shadow Minister for Sport?
HART: We work as a team, the Tasmanian Labor Caucus raised this with the team. We are constantly feeding things to the leadership team, this has come from a range of places, there is no doubt that the Tasmanian Caucus supports the concept of an AFL team, the important thing, is it’s time. It’s time for there to be a Tasmanian AFL team.

JOHNSON: Do you reject the idea that this is going towards an organisation which already has enough money to spend, but doesn’t want to spend it?
HART: It’s not going to the AFL, it is going towards the establishment of an Tasmanian AFL team. This is different, this is not a transfer of money to the AFL, as I said before, if we want a Tasmanian AFL team we need to do more than simply wish for it. We need to have concrete action.
BOSCIA: Are you confident that if Labor change leaders before the next election, the new leader would carry on this policy?
HART: There is no question of there being a change of leadership. We are a strong united team, this is a policy that I am proud to take forward, this is something that Tasmanians have aspired for quite some period of time.

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