The membership of our new parliament is settled and talks are well underway to decide the make-up of our new government.

At the start of the election campaign, we asked every candidate one simple question:

If elected, will you vote for the use of public funds (costing $ hundreds of millions) for construction of a new stadium for AFL in Tasmania?

During the campaign, we published a series of articles that set out why a stadium at Mac Point is in the wrong place, bad economic and public policy, and rooted in abuse of power.  Click below to refresh your memory on some of those.

In the Weekend Australian* over Easter, Matthew Denholm summed up the election results, as far as they were known at the time, as predicting a minority Liberal government, returning the parliament to the ‘chaos’ Premier Rockliff called the election ostensibly to escape.

After canvassing potential ‘deals’ that the new government may have to negotiate with Independents and the JLN, Denholm moved on to discuss the dire situation of Tasmania’s finances, citing Saul Eslake’s warning that the incoming government “must immediately cut spending, privatise assets and reform tax” to avoid ‘sinking’ into a “debt spiral already rivalling Victoria’s . . . which everybody thinks . . . is a basket case”.

Mr Eslake pointed out that on two metrics commonly used by the ratings agencies – the cash deficit and net financial liabilities – Tasmania is worse than Victoria, and calls the Liberals’ $1.4B in election promises “gobsmackingly irresponsible”.

So, how did we get here?

  • From the day the Mac Point stadium was announced by the Liberal government, opponents have asserted it was unaffordable.
  • Then, in May 2023 it emerged the Commonwealth’s offer of an “extra” $240M to complement the state’s proposed funding was an illusion, as the Commonwealth’s money was coming from Tasmania’s GST allocation.  In other words, it is not extra money; it is money to be diverted from other projects like housing, health or education.
  • Later in May, the premier finally released the Club Funding and Development Agreement aka ‘Contract’ to the public and the full burden of risk to the Tasmanian community was revealed, including sole responsibility for all cost overruns, penalties for unfilled seats, and multi-million dollar fines for failing to meet staged completion dates.
  • On day 1 of the election campaign, Premier Rockliff announced the State would cap its contribution to the stadium at $375M, meaning the majority of the real cost of the stadium – by then estimated to be $1.2 or $1.4B – was unfunded by at least $500M.
  • On the day before the election was held, Tasmania’s Treasury forecast four straight deficits and debt ballooning to $6.1B.  All this for a state with $8B revenue per year.
  • On 30 March 2024, economist Saul Eslake predicted a tough budget ahead, with cuts to services.  He questioned the Liberal proposal to “reduce health demand”.
  • The end result: as predicted 12 months ago, and as will continue to be predicted, a stadium at Mac Point is unaffordable, and will bankrupt the state of Tasmania.

At Our Place, we want to ensure that our new parliament wastes no more of our state’s resources on this doomed project.  We have written to all but three of the new members asking them to back the stance taken by the majority of Tasmanians when they voted last month. Click below to see our letters to them.

A small handful of members are central to decisions about the shape of our next government. The three elected members of the Jacqui Lambie Network all responded to our survey during the campaign. Rebekah Pentland said a firm NO to our survey question.  Miriam Beswick and Andrew Jenner both advised that they were strong supporters of a state team but listed a series of concerns about the stadium itself.

Ms Beswick told us that she was “sceptical about the currently proposed plan” and that such funding decisions should not be taken “behind closed doors, hidden even from the Government’s own cabinet”. She said, “There are big problems in health, housing and education, which urgently need to be addressed.”

Mr Jenner also spoke of his concerns about unaddressed problems in “health, housing and education” and told us that “the current proposal has not been costed correctly”. Further, he believes it is proposed for a site that is “a totally inappropriate place”, with the UTAS stadium being “a far better option”, offering “a better location, better transport infrastructure and would cost much less to bring it up to AFL demands.”

These 3 new members have now reached an agreement with Premier Rockliff. In doing so, they have given their power away by signing over their support for the Liberals in return for a series of commitments for reviews, but nothing more. They have not even secured access to the state’s finances until budget time, so there’s no way they can judge how big the financial impact of the stadium will be. Click below to read the signed agreement.

Please help Our Place by calling on these new members to tell the government the stadium is off the table. And, for good measure, they need to re-negotiate the agreement with the Premier so they can actually achieve something in the next parliament. So far, all they have achieved is becoming de-facto Liberal members. They need to deliver on what they promised us before the election.

For any new members of parliament negotiating with the Liberal minority to form government, the stadium has to be a deal breaker.