The Australian government "ought to look at" funding infrastructure to support a prospective Tasmanian AFL side if the bid for a team is successful, federal Sport Minister Richard Colbeck says.
The Devonport-based senator is a former vice president of the Devonport Football Club and played for them from the late 1970s until the late '80s.
He was elevated to Prime Minister Scott Morrison's new ministry after the Coalition's election victory in May, being handed the sport portfolio, as well as youth, aged care and senior Australians.
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During the election campaign, the Liberals ran a divisive ad campaign in Tasmania around Labor's $25 million pledge to help a team for the state get off the ground, saying it would be a team for Hobart.
The Liberals have maintained that a state AFL team should be funded by the league itself, not tax-payers.
The ads sparked claims the party had deliberately exploited the island's historical parochialism and potentially hurt the bid for a team.
Senator Colbeck, who says he is "very, very supportive" of the current push for a Tasmanian team in the AFL, was the face of the Liberals' campaign here.
When asked whether he supported the party's tactics in the lead-up to election day, Senator Colbeck said, "I didn't have much choice".
"I was the campaign spokesman every day," he said.
"I suppose there was a genuine concern about what the process might be to work out what would support a team in the long-term."
The minister said while the federal government provided funding to other AFL teams, the money was for infrastructure, rather than to prop up their operations.
He said the federal government could adopt a similar approach to a Tasmanian team by chipping in for infrastructure to support it.
"When we get to that point in time, I think that's what we ought to look at," Senator Colbeck said. "We'd be happy to consider that."
"The AFL should ante up with the licence and the funding to support [a Tasmanian team], just like they do with [the Greater Western Sydney Giants] and the Gold Coast Suns."
Senator Colbeck was scathing in his assessment of the AFL's treatment of Tasmania in the past.
"They've taken us for granted," he said. "They've seen this as a place to recruit great players."
"I think their attitude's changed a bit in the last 12-18 months, which is very positive.
[The AFL has] taken us for granted. They've seen this as a place to recruit great players.Federal Sport Minister Richard Colbeck
"But for them and some of their key backers, they would prefer to see other markets chased rather than us."
Senator Colbeck said the notion Tasmania was too parochial to support one team was overstated, and if a team was established, locals would "just get on board".
"I have to say when it comes to the North-South stuff, [it's] an excuse that's been used against Tasmania for a long time by people who didn't really want to do anything so they've just thrown that back at us," he said.
Senator Colbeck didn't deny there was a "rivalry" between the North and the South, but added that the same thing existed between Devonport and Burnie, as well as between other places.
"If you look at [these rivalries] in a local sporting sense, it's actually what makes our local sporting competitions work," he said. "You have your town derbies."
Tasmania's AFL taskforce chair Brett Godfrey has proposed that a 25,000 multi-use rectangular stadium be built at Macquarie Point in Hobart to bolster the case for a team.
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But the minister said he was "cautious" about the idea and it had nothing to do with him being from the North.
"[There is] a practical difference between a rectangular stadium and an oval stadium," he said.
"I'm just cautious about a hybrid-type stadium for a particular point or purpose and that's based on conversations that I've had around different types of stadiums.
"You're more likely to be able to utilise an oval stadium for a rectangular purpose than the other way around."
While Senator Colbeck isn't playing a formal role in the bid for a team, he said he'd last week spoken to prominent Launceston businessman Errol Stewart, a member of the influential taskforce.
He told Mr Stewart that he thought it would be beneficial for the taskforce to identify relationships a prospective team might form with other organisations as a means of securing a sustainable future for itself.
"Is it possible for the club to have a relationship with the Tasmanian Institute of Sport, for example, and the University of Tasmania?" the minister said.
"It potentially mitigates the cost for both or all of the people involved but it also provides access to resources around health, medical treatments, some of the elite training methods."