Australian State Premier Admits More Work to Do Selling Stadium Deal

Australian State Premier Admits More Work to Do Selling Stadium Deal
Premier of Tasmania, Jeremy Rockliff speaks during a press conference in Hobart, April 29, 2023. Tasmania looks set to have its own AFL team after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pledged an additional $240 million to the state government to build a new waterfront stadium in Hobart. (AAP Image/Loic Le Guilly)

Tasmania’s premier concedes he has work to do garnering community support for a $715 million (US$478 million) stadium, a condition of the state getting an Australian Football League (AFL) team.

Jeremy Rockliff on June 23 appeared at a parliamentary inquiry examining planning behind the proposal for a 23,000-seat roofed stadium at Macquarie Point on Hobart’s waterfront.

The stadium project received federal government funding in late April, prompting the AFL to award Tasmania the league’s 19th licence.

Thousands have protested against the stadium and the state’s Labor opposition and the Greens are opposed to the plan.

The governing Liberals were plunged into minority in May when two MPs quit the party and became independents, claiming a lack of transparency around the stadium and AFL deal.

Rockliff says the stadium is an investment in the state’s future and will boost tourism and help inspire the next generation.

Rockliff told the inquiry a plan for the broader Macquarie Point precinct, to also include affordable housing, will likely be completed by October 1.

“Governments are elected to make decisions in the best interests of their community. I’ve made the decision in the best interests of Tasmania,” Rockliff said of the stadium.

“Some may well disagree but I have made the call and that’s what I believe people expect from leaders of the community.

“Yes, we need to bring our community along with us. I accept we have work to do in that area.”

Rockliff refused to directly answer whether state treasury had provided advice about the AFL deal, or if his cabinet colleagues saw the agreement in full.

“I’ve got the authority to sign the deal,” Rockliff said.

“Cabinet were fully aware of aspects of the deal ... particularly the investment because it was part of the budget decision.”

Rockliff said he expected the stadium project to be declared a project of state of significance in October, as part of the approval process.

It will then need to pass both houses of parliament before it is assessed by the state planning commission.

The project will then return to parliament for a second vote.

The state government has pledged $375 million (US$250 million) towards the stadium, the federal government $240 million (US$160 million) and the AFL $15 million (US$10 million).

The state government will contribute $12 million (US$8 million) per year over 12 years towards a team, plus $60 million (US$40 million) for a high-performance centre.

The AFL will invest about $360 million (US$240 million) over a decade into the club, which has a slated start date of 2028.

Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.
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