A $25 million pledge toward a future Tasmanian AFL team is the best “free-kick” the state has been given in a long time, according to Neil Kearney.
The renowned sports journalist, and Longford-native, has praised federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s announcement to offer $25 million to a future state AFL side.
However, Bass Liberal MHA Sarah Courtney labelled the announcement as a “fake promise”.
“We know the Labor Party cannot deliver – they are not in government,” she said.
“The Tasmanian government has a clear goal to have its own Tasmanian AFL team… and it is up to the AFL to step up and fund this.”
Mr Shorten announced on Saturday that a future Labor government would provide a $25 million payment to upgrade facilities and improve player development pathways if an AFL licence was granted.
It’s a statement in our favour and Tassie needs every statement and every bit of support we can get.Sports journalist Neil Kearney
Mr Kearney said AFL football was a birthright for Tasmanians and that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull should match the pledge.
“It’s a statement in our favour and Tassie needs every statement and every bit of support we can get,” he said.
“It’s a bit of leverage that the AFL in Tasmania needs…and something like this would bring together Tasmania like never before.”
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan recently handed down the findings of a steering committee that examined the future of football in Tasmania.
While the state is set to gain entry in to the TAC Cup in 2019 and the VFL in 2021, no date has been set for a future AFL team.
Ex-AFL chief executive Wayne Jackson recently said an AFL Tasmanian side would need to generate $50 million in sponsorship revenue every year.
Bass Labor MHR Ross Hart said the feat is achievable, but noted the $25 million pledge was a strictly one-off payment.
“National organisations will see a Tasmanian team just as they see the Hurricanes as a vital part of the Big Bash League,” he said.
“For too long Tasmania has been told [it] doesn’t deserve an AFL team...but to use a well travelled political phrase – it’s time.”
Ms Courtney questioned the timing of the announcement.
“It’s a desperate attempt to try and grab votes in Braddon and it is not a long term solution for Tasmania,” she said.