Bass Independent Lara Alexander has demanded that Jeremy Rockliff come clean with the electorate over his apparent new cut-price deal for an AFL stadium in Hobart.

Mrs Alexander spoke after Mr Rockliff announced a stunning backflip on the Stadium, declaring a price cap of $375m in taxpayer contribution to the AFL-mandated Mac Point stadium.

Mrs Alexander said the Premier needed to tell people whether he had signed another secret deal with the AFL or whether the AFL had now discovered what Tasmanians already knew: that the Premier couldn’t be trusted to stick to a deal.

“It appears, on the face of it, that the Premier has breached the previous secret deal he signed with the AFL to build them a stadium in Hobart,” Mrs Alexander said.

“Did the Premier inform the AFL of his new price cap and negotiate a variation to the contract, or did he just arbitrarily decide – as he did with myself and John Tucker – that the deal didn’t suit his political agenda and should be tossed aside.”

The AFL deal, which was only released to the public after pressure from Mrs Alexander and Mr Tucker, states ‘…the Tasmanian Government agrees that it is solely responsible to develop and construct the Stadium, including any costs that exceed the Estimated Stadium Build Cost’.

Mrs Alexander said it was an extraordinary backflip from the Premier given the turmoil he had been willing to put Tasmanians through to protect his original secret deal.

“Jeremy Rockliff was so intent on sticking to this deal he was prepared to let two of his MPs move to the crossbench,” she said.

“He split his Liberal Party, destroyed his majority and wrecked his own Government for this AFL deal, and now on the first day of the campaign – when he finally realizes he’s practically the only person in the State who wants it, he throws the deal under a bus.”

Mrs Alexander added that now that the Premier had broken the ice and breached the deal with the AFL, he should take the opportunity to do what he should always have done, and declare that a Tasmanian AFL team would play its home games at UTAS Stadium in Launceston.

She said she understood that one of the reasons former AFL chief Gil McLoughlin had mandated a Mac Point stadium was because he believed the players wouldn’t want to live in Launceston.

She said while she obviously didn’t share that sentiment, there was nothing to stop the club basing itself and its High-Performance Centre in Hobart, and making the short flight to Launceston for home games.

“There is hardly a single professional sporting team in the world that trains where it plays,” she said.

“We have an AFL-proven facility here at UTAS with funds already committed to an upgrade and, most importantly, it will allow the thousands of football-loving Tasmanians in the North, North-West and on the West Coast much greater opportunity to actually see their team in action.

“The Premier talked endlessly about an AFL team being for all Tasmanians, then disenfranchised half the State by cravenly bowing down to AFL demands to build a stadium in Hobart.

“Even with a spend cap of $375m, it is still $375m too much. Now that Jeremy Rockliff has found the courage to, apparently, finally breach faith with the AFL he should find it easier to go the whole hog and abandon his ridiculous Mac Point debacle once and for all.”

Friday February 16th, 2024

Tags: News