Trusting in our democracy, Tasmanians headed to the polls on 23 March. We did our homework on stadium policies before we voted. We surveyed our candidates and we researched their platforms. When the dust settled, we counted up and knew we had elected a Lower House that would not vote for a new stadium as the price of having our own AFL/W teams.

And many of us fronted up again on 4 May to vote in Upper House elections with no hint that one of the major parties was considering (or had already decided on?) a policy backflip.

What happened?

The return of the ALP’s ‘faceless men’

The ALP backflip makes no sense. Are there hidden forces at play? Perhaps not so hidden if the latest scuttlebutt regarding the close ties between Dean Winter and Paul Lennon is to be believed, particularly when Mr Lennon’s lobbying for Stadia 2.0 is taken into account.

While those Tasmanians who supported Labor on 23 March did so in the knowledge that they were not voting for a stadium green light, the parlous nature of the ALP’s overall campaign left many electors nonplussed and searching for a clear understanding of what the Party stood for. Then its untimely capitulation to Opposition barely 24 hours after the polls closed, suggested there is more at play here than just the usual machinations of the Labor Party.

The boys are back in town

The ALP backflip, done with such alacrity after the Legislative Council elections, and with votes still being counted, may be just a distraction from the fact that the male power base in the party hung yet another female candidate out to dry. Throughout the campaign, particularly in the north, it was Labor women who were most strident and unequivocal in their opposition to a stadium at Mac Point, both in terms of the financial burdens such expenditure would place on the state budget, and in opportunity costs (or losses) for their constituents.

They understood that the Rockliff Mac Point stadium is poorly sited, insults the RSL, won’t fit on the site and destroys the heritage of the area. And, there is no funding for it. So why would the ALP now appear to give in and support it? For a year they have put forward arguments against it and raised credible concerns.

Bread and circuses

Falling back on the old saw of job creation is puerile nonsense. There would be more jobs if the money were spent on housing, with the added benefit of alleviating homelessness throughout the state. Many jobs in these big construction projects are highly specialised, involving skills not currently extant in Tasmania, and requiring specialists who fly-in on short term contracts. Even if the construction workforce did exist here, a project of this size would hoover up all the workers in the state, leaving precious few to build the social and affordable housing both parties promised, or maintain existing public infrastructure in hospitals and schools (currently lagging behind with 2 year waiting times) let alone private development.

For the union movement to come out in favour of this travesty must have Jack Munday turning in his grave. There are already substantial commitments to upgrading UTAS/York Park that will provide Tasmanian construction jobs. Any other use to which the Mac Point site could be put will need Tasmanian construction workers; it doesn’t need to be a stadium.  Click below to scroll through the Our Place vision for the site.

Moreover, the Tasmanian electorate said “no” at the March 2024 election. More than 60% voted for candidates who either explicitly rejected the Mac Point proposal, or who were uncommitted to it until they examined the planning and budgetary implications. These implications are yet to manifest. The only party to express its unequivocal support received a drubbing, with a 12% swing against them.

At Our Place, we were quick to call out Labor’s betrayal of the Tasmanian people.  You can read our Media Release here:

The only rational explanation for the ALP supporting “a stadium” at Mac Point is to lay a path for future support for the Lennon stadium at Regatta Point. The ALP knows the Mac Point proposal is highly likely to fall over eventually. It has a long and difficult path to tread through the TPC’s PoSS process. This opens the way for the ALP to support the Lennon proposal with Dean Winter now being Mr. Lennon’s puppet.

The Lennon stadium is a claim for public land with a $700M state subsidy. It will make a fortune for Lennon and will create a major hole in the state’s finances.

Any stadium at Mac Point is:

  • not needed
  • unfunded
  • in the wrong location
  • without social licence.

At Our Place, we have publicly let Dean Winter know what we think of his disgraceful treatment of Tasmanian voters and have called out his opaque motives. This is a matter of integrity for the ALP. Click below to view one of our many forays into the media since Mr Winter’s announcement.

Contact Dean Winter to add your voice to ours. Tell him that, as a Tasmanian voter, you will never forget his betrayal in going to both recent elections on a platform of renegotiating the AFL Team agreement. Tell him you support Tasmania having a team but not at this cost. Tell him he needs to stand with the Tasmanian people and call out the arrogant behaviour of both Premier Rockliff and the AFL in signing us up to debt, sustained neglect of our social support systems and destruction of our heritage.

And after you’ve told Dean Winter why he’s wrong, consider supporting our campaign to pressure the AFL to allow Tasmania out of the dud deal signed by a Premier on his knees, and begging.

To avoid further loss of trust in our democratic processes, Labor has to reverse its betrayal of the Tasmanian people.