Published: 28 August 2023

I will state at the outset to ensure all listening have a clear understanding of my position.

I fully support our own Tasmanian Team.

I also am not averse to the construction of a new purpose built stadium.

I am a North Melbourne supporter and have been to many AFL games in Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, Sydney and have visited Adelaide Oval a number of times.

I remain deeply concerned about the use of the Macquarie Point site for a stadium due to aboriginal heritage, traffic management, visual impact, including on the Cenotaph, land conditions and cost concerns, to name a few. There are other sites where a stadium could be built with far less division and far greater agreement and support.

I am so very disappointed by the government’s handling of this. It has led to deep divisions in our community when the opportunity for our own Tassie team should be uniting us all.

I am also very disappointed that the deal signed by the Premier means Tasmania has to wait much longer than any other State to actually run onto the field in the AFL.

By comparison - Brisbane, WCE, and Adelaide teams in 1986, waited just 6 months.

Fremantle Dockers - in 1994 - just 8 months.

Port Adelaide - in 1996 waited just 12 months.

Gold Coast Suns - in 2009 – 2 years.

Why should we have to wait 5 years?

Many ardent AFL supporters – and I fully appreciate their desire to see the team and new stadium proceed, suggest I look at the business case that they claim stacks up incredibly well. I seek to disagree.

The Macquarie Point cost benefit analysis, on which these claims are based ….. has actually been shown to be seriously deficient in a number of areas. The opportunity cost was not considered at all.

For one the business case relies on an additional 37 events at the stadium.

To suggest the same venue could be used A-League, NRL or Rugby Union games, especially if Tasmania was to get our own Licence is fanciful.

Both Perth and Adelaide's A-League teams chose to play in smaller non AFL Venues as do all 3 A-League Soccer Teams in Victoria and nobody plays soccer at Marvel Stadium.

The Football Federation of Australia have made their position clear on this matter – they would require a separate and suitable stadium to be built for them too.

Heritage Bank Stadium (Gold Coast Suns Stadium) has had no soccer, rugby league or union games there since its redevelopment in 2011.

The Adelaide Oval has had only 1 Rugby Union Match since it opened in 2014, the last Rugby League was 3 years ago and there has only been 1 Soccer game in 3 years. The Perth Stadium is very similar.

When these other codes have played in Perth and Adelaide their State governments paid them to. Such costs haven’t been factored in to this business case.

If the economic case is to actually stack up we need a far more comprehensive, accurate assessment with more detail on design, realistic estimate of cost and clear modelling to support assumptions.
And surely a cost benefit ratio of more than one should be the aim, where benefits exceed costs. The cost benefit ratio provided in the business case was as low as 0.3. That’s only 30 cents in benefits for every $1 spent.

In addition, the Macquarie Point cost benefit analysis was undertaken before any likely cost blow-out has been factored in.

Most people in the construction industry I speak to, are quite convinced the suggestion of a total cost of $715 million is farcical.

We also know, and can’t ignore the fact that major projects have real cost blow-outs. The Government’s own record clearly demonstrates this.

For example, the cost of the proposed Cradle Mountain Cable Car is now triple the original proposal.

We have seen major infrastructure projects withdrawn here, including a private hospital development, and in other States, including the proposed Penrith stadium, just days ago, due to cost blowouts. These cost blowouts contributed to the cancellation of the Commonwealth Games – which includes the building of stadia.

The deal the Premier signed, on our behalf, was signed with no consultation with the people of Tasmania, nor any advice from Treasury.

I appreciate Treasury does and will take a black hat approach, but to not even seek their input is, in my view, an appalling lack of rigour, transparency and proper process for such a significant expense.

Tasmania, according to the contract, also carries all the financial risk and has significant financial penalties should timelines fail to be met – this is an appalling inclusion in the signed contract, especially as the AFL will not actually suffer a financial loss if there is a delay in the construction of a new stadium.

With timelines already blown out of the water, this must be re-negotiated.

With many unknowns related to the design and other factors the cost estimates are little more than guesses.

My role as a member of the State’s Upper House is one of scrutiny and review of government decisions. To undertake my role – with all the various pressures from all sides of this debate – I listen to all points of view and take them into consideration …. I balance this with all the other information I am privileged to have access to due to my position.

I do not respond to threats or abuse. I seek detailed fact over opinion.

Even with the vast amounts of information available to me, I remain concerned about a number of aspects and need more clarity of information before making a decision on the stadium’s proposed referral for assessment under the Project of State Significance framework. I am also very conscious of the fact that the people of Tasmania will also bear the full cost of what is a lengthy assessment process.

The process that led us to this situation – whereby the AFL and the 18 Club Presidents are dictating to Tasmania that a 23,000 seat, fixed roof stadium, at Macquarie Point, not where it could be – but where it must be - as a condition of granting a licence for our own team - is fundamentally wrong. This a view shared by many people I represent and receive correspondence from, a key issue raised with me at my recent election. I absolutely acknowledge there are people across the State that strongly support the proposed stadium as there are many who believe we must not bend to external parties to build a stadium as a condition of out team.

We deserve our own team and it should be considered and supported on its merits to give all Tasmanian children and youth the opportunity and pathway to play for our own State.

Yes I sat across the table from Andrew Dillon the AFL CEO when he repeated …. it’s this stadium or nothing – no team. This creates enormous distress from many ardent footy fans who want to see our team regardless of cost.

They ask me to forget about the costs and think only about the benefit.

If I had no concern about where the money was coming from and what impact it would have on the state’s financial position I may too have the luxury of taking such a position.

But I am not elected to overlook such key and important matters.

There are other options for a new stadium within walking distance of the CBD that can and should be fully assessed – not just with a cursory look – including on the Domain where the TCA ground is.

Elevated walkways, much like those that connect the MCG to the Melbourne CBD would create an experience similar to walking to and from a game at the G – a fantastic part of any game at the G - with very similar walks times.

I believe if there is a genuine desire by the AFL to issue Tassie with a 19th license – they will be willing re-negotiate.

In my view any contract can be renegotiated. This Government, to their credit, redrew the contract with NWPH to end the so-called ever green contract and then twice re-negotiated it again to return public maternity services to the public system.

This is to be commended. If we can do it to improve health care why can’t we do it for the economic wellbeing of our State?!

I want to see our AFL team sooner rather than later.

I am not averse to a new stadium but I am averse to being dictated to by those outside our State, putting our state under significant financial pressure.

With increased borrowings to fund such a project that could deliver an inter-generational asset also means interest payments to service this debt will be required from the same bucket of money we also need to fund health, education and other infrastructure around the State. These are the matters I must consider in my decision making on behalf of all Tasmanians.

Go Back