The AFL will not be drawn on a potential Legislative Council inquiry into whether Tasmania should have its own team.
The upper house will decide next week whether to support the call by Windermere independent MLC Ivan Dean for a committee to be set up to consider the benefits to the economy and community of having a Tasmanian team in the AFL.
“Tasmanians deserve to know what we should do to sort this out and the optimal time for Tasmania to field an AFL team,” Mr Dean said.
“We need to consider whether Tasmanian taxpayers, or the AFL, should subsidise Melbourne based AFL clubs playing in Tasmania.
“We’ve not been able to get top class games for next season and that’s not good enough.”
An AFL spokesman said the league would not comment on the inquiry.
Leading economist Saul Eslake said an inquiry would be a “good move.”
“What I hope this inquiry will do is get people thinking about whether Tasmania should say to the AFL, if you don’t commit to Tasmania having its own team - with a clear timetable and pathway – then the Tasmanian government will not ‘roll over’ the existing deals with Hawthorn and North Melbourne when they expire,” Mr Eslake said.
“That’s why the proposed inquiry’s terms of reference, as I understand them, call for an examination of the costs and benefits to Tasmania of those existing deals, and a comparison of the costs and benefits of Tasmania having its own team.”
Mr Dean said the inquiry, if supported, would also look at the AFL’s perception of Tasmania being “geographically and politically divided.”
“We need to delve into the north and south arguments,” he said.
Long time advocate for a Tasmanian AFL team Russell Hanson of Hobart said when the AFL replaced the VFL in 1990 its mission statement was for all states to be represented.
“The AFL has made no commitment on when we will get our own team,” Mr Hanson said.
“There is no timeline only excuses and that is dividing Tasmania.
“They don’t have to say it will be tomorrow but tell us when and it would be contagious in Tasmania.”
Mr Hanson said the AFL had pointed to Tasmania’s participation rates dropping but he said Tasmania’s participation was higher than Victoria.
“It is deception to use that argument,” he said.