Labor has backed the Hawthorn Football Club to continue its arrangement with Tasmania to play four games a year in Launceston - but it's challenged the state government to use North Melbourne's Hobart games as leverage to secure a Tasmanian AFL and AFLW team.
Opposition Leader Rebecca White and Labor sport spokesman David O'Byrne were at the University of Tasmania Stadium on Sunday to outline their vision to ditch the North Melbourne deal and gain an upper hand in negotiations with the AFL in the event that league executives didn't commit to giving the state a licence for a team.
Ms White said Labor supported the recommendations in the Tasmanian AFL Taskforce's report - released earlier this month - on the viability of a prospective Tasmanian team.
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"What has to be our priority is making sure that we do everything possible to get a Tassie team here for our state," Ms White said.
Mr O'Byrne said the state government had a choice to make between acquiescing to the AFL or digging in and using more aggressive negotiating tactics in order to secure a licence.
"You either pick the AFL and continue the path that we're on or you pick Tasmania," he said.
"We believe the Hawks deal creates jobs, creates tourism activity in the North of the state in the winter months when we need it most.
"And we believe that the money spent in the North Melbourne deal is better spent elsewhere and that's why we're making that decision."
Taxpayers fork out a total of $8 million per year for the Hawks and Kangaroos deals, which are up for renegotiation in 2021.
The taskforce's report suggested that the government should "reconsider or at least revalue" the deals.
Government minister Sarah Courtney said Labor had "abandoned" the state's tripartite unity ticket on a Tasmanian AFL team and that "transitional arrangements" with both North Melbourne and Hawthorn were needed.
"The Premier ... had productive conversations [last] week with the AFL and those conversations are continuing, so we're very hopeful on the back of those conversations that we'll be able to find a pathway towards our own AFL team," she said.
Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin stressed that the deal with Hawthorn needed to be "locked in indefinitely".
"I think any suggestion that we remove the Hawks from Launceston would be frankly economically stupid and politically nuts," he said.
"It is so critically important for the Northern tourism industry and hospitality sector to know that there are four weekends a year when there's going to be bumper activity."
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