Design & Development

Locals protest against Tasmania’s AFL stadium plan

Featured image credit: Jeremy Rockliff

Tasmania Premier Jeremy Rockliff has said he remains committed to delivering a new A$715m (£382m/€439m/$478m) stadium that will house an Australian Football League franchise, despite protests against the project over the weekend.

Earlier this month, Tasmania ended a long-running effort to secure an AFL franchise with confirmation that it had been awarded the 19th licence for a club that will play at a new stadium in Hobart.

The AFL signed binding commitments with the Tasmanian Government to deliver on the conditions behind the franchise award, including partnering with the Federal Government for the construction of a 23,000-seat roofed stadium at Macquarie Point. The men’s team is expected to enter the AFL in 2028, with a proposed timeline for a women’s team entry to be worked through shortly.

The Federal Government has pledged to provide A$240m towards the project, with the Tasmanian Government already pledging A$375m and the AFL itself set to contribute A$15m.

On Friday, MPs John Tucker and Lara Alexander quit Tasmania’s Liberal Party to sit as independents over a perceived lack of transparency on the state Government’s funding plans for the stadium. Alexander has not ruled out attempting to block the budget if the plans for the stadium are not fully explained.

The resignations plunged the Liberal Government into minority status and opposition to the project accelerated over the weekend as an estimated 6,000 locals attended a protest march. The protestors were supportive of the plans for an AFL team in Tasmania but questioned the need for a new stadium, a view shared by Rebecca White, leader of the opposing Labor Party in Tasmania.

Speaking to ABC Radio Hobart today (Monday), Rockliff said: “I believe in this project, I believe in our own AFL team that many people have fought for decades for, and I don’t want to lose this opportunity.

“Yes, it’s difficult and I’m prepared as premier, as people know, to make the tough calls. Now, people might not like it but I absolutely will be getting the job done.”

Alexander told ABC Radio Hobart: “We may block supply if that particular budget line item [the stadium] is not explained and identified properly.

“There could be legitimate expenditure in relation to the site, which is rehabilitating the site, or there could be a number of things that form part of that intention of putting the stadium there.

“So we need to understand exactly what sits behind that budget line. Obviously, the budget has a lot of other items … housing, community expenditure, so you can’t be reckless with these things. But that particular line item has to be properly accounted for.”