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Emails reveal Tasmanian Premier’s unease before kicking in more AFL bid cash

Tasmania will have a team in the AFL, after the island state was officially awarded the league's 19th licence by CEO Gillon McLachlan.

Tasmania will have a team in the AFL, after the island state was officially awarded the league's 19th licence by CEO Gillon McLachlan. Photo: AAP

Tasmania’s Premier raised concerns about AFL requirements for the state’s contribution towards a standalone team before increasing his funding offer.

Emails from Jeremy Rockliff to league boss Gillon McLachlan between June and November last year have been made public following a right to information request.

The island state is pushing for inclusion in the national competition in a drawn-out process that was originally expected to be voted on late last season.

Tasmania’s chances seemingly hinge on whether the federal government will chip in $240 million in its May budget towards a new $715 million stadium in Hobart.

The state government has pledged $375 million for the project, which the AFL says is a prerequisite to Tasmania being granted a licence.

In May last year, the state government announced it would contribute $10 million per year towards a team over 10 years, plus an additional $50 million for establishment costs.

In an email to Mr McLachlan on August 29, Mr Rockliff said he was “concerned that the latest AFL requirements compromise current community expectations, sound economic governance and ultimately the sustainability of the club”.

No emails sent by Mr McLachlan during the exchanges have been made public.

On September 14, Mr Rockliff emailed Mr McLachlan, saying the state government had increased its offer to $10 million per year over 15 years.

He said it came after a “shift in the economic environment” and an increase in forecast operating costs for a team since the formulation of the business case.

The state government on September 19 publicly announced its funding for a team would be $12 million per year over 12 years, plus $60 million for a high-performance centre.

Tasmania’s Labor opposition, which opposes the stadium project, accused Mr Rockliff of capitulating to the AFL.

“Mr Rockliff’s negotiating skills and decision making are failing Tasmanians,” MP Josh Willie said.

Labor says the stadium funding would be better spent on improving the state’s under-pressure essential services.

Mr McLachlan last week said the AFL would continue lobbying the federal government in the lead-up to the budget.

-AAP

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