Media Releases & Transcripts


June 10, 2022






FRIDAY, 10 JUNE 2022

SUBJECT/S: Tasmanian AFL Team

Mel Bush, Presenter: Queensland Senator Anthony Chisholm knows exactly what it takes to get an AFL licence. He was the State Secretary for the Queensland Labour government when the AFL came to them with a plan to establish a second Queensland team, the Gold Coast suns. The team was given the 17th licence and played their first game back in 2011. Yesterday, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan made it clear that Tasmanian government would need to stump up for a brand new stadium if the state wanted to take the 19th licence and that's along with $150 million already promised, which Gill McLachlan described as a strong start. So what did Queensland have to do to get the Gold Coast Suns? How much money did it cost them? A fraction of that according to Senator Anthony Chisholm, Senator, welcome to the programme. Thank you very, very much for your time this morning. I know you're incredibly busy.

Senator Anthony Chisholm: Good to be with you Mel,

BUSH: Just for a bit of context. Firstly, this this is what AFL had Gil McLachlan had to say to us yesterday,

Audio Recording of Gillon McLachlan: whether it's contingent or however you want  to frame it, and I'll take responsibility with this. This team needs and will have a new stadium if you want to play you want a licence and I think Tasmanians would expect that north and south.

BUSH: So there you go. Senator, what did the AFL want from the Queensland Government to set up the Gold Coast Suns?

CHISHOLM: Well, they wanted quite a modest commitment to upgrading Carrara stadium which had been in use previously, when the bears were formed. They originally played out of Carrara , not unlike what you've got now with, with North Melbourne and Hawthorne playing games there. So they asked for a state contribution a federal government contribution, a council contribution, and indeed, the AFL themselves put money into upgrading Carrara to get it to a standard for AFL games. So it just seems completely different to what they're demanding of Tasmania at the moment.

BUSH: So comparatively speaking, it was well within budget in order to be able to get that second team then Senator.

CHISHOLM: Yeah, so from some memory, the total cost of the redevelopment at the time was around $144 million and the state contributed the most but the federal government at the time, chipped in the council chipped in and the AFL contributed as well, because they wanted to see the Gold Coast team get into the competition. So it was a combined effort. And obviously the existing Stadium was there and it just needed to be upgraded to AFL standard.

BUSH: And there are two already in Tasmania but $145 million commitment is well, that's below our strong start, Senator as Gill McLachlan's described it. Just again, how much did taxpayers have to stump up for that upgrade of whats, Metricon now was Carrara.

CHISHOLM: My recollection was that the state contributed about 70 million, the federal government contributed about 35 million, the council about 23 and the AFL about 15. So it was a combined effort, and just to be clear, that was to. The only contribution from the government was to upgrade the stadium. This wasn't for the ongoing running of the team. Like I think being proposed by the AFL at the moment.

BUSH: Are there any ongoing commitments to the AFL in terms of financial contributions that you're aware of today?

CHISHOLM: No, I don't think that was ever the case that there was asked on the state government at all, for them to make an ongoing contribution to the running of the team.

BUSH: So Senator, the burning question, why do you think it's being made so hard for Tasmania? What are your thoughts on that?

CHISHOLM: Well, look, I'm someone who's a supporter of a Tasmanian team in the AFL. I've got strong family connections to Tasmania, and I believe they deserve a team. But it just seems that the AFL are driving really hard bargain in Tasmania compared to how they've treated Queensland with the Suns and indeed, to my recollection, how they treated the Greater Western Sydney when they were being established. So it just seems poor form to treat such a great AFL state of Tasmania in this way, when they should be treated more fairly than this because they'd be a great addition to the competition.

BUSH: To the best of my knowledge. Tasmania having a team in the AFL hasn't been part of the AFL strategic plan. Do you think this might be just a way of potentially getting Tasmania just to hold off just for the AFL maybe be able to wriggle out? Because of the contribution that they're demanding?

CHISHOLM: Well, I'd hope not. And the AFL are very well run. They're very efficient. They always get good deals out of the government. But I think that with this, that you've got to have a little bit of your heart and you know, what's good for the country and what's good for the national competition, and, there's no doubt that having a team out of Tasmania would be great for the National competition. So hopefully the AFL can look passed this and actually be constructive, rather than demanding what I would consider an unfair deal compared to what they did with Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast.

BUSH: Yeah, well, Senator, you may not be aware of it. But currently looking at with the cost of the stadium that's being proposed, the commitment Tasmania could be looking at $1 billion. Does that strike you as a little outrageous under the circumstances?

CHISHOLM: Well, I think if you compare it to the recent expansion teams in the Suns and the Giants, that does seem over the odds when you've got two stadiums there already, that could be used, that are being used for AFL games at the moment, and quite successfully, from what I can see.

BUSH: Well, if it goes ahead, will you be visiting for a few games will you be?

CHISHOLM: I'll absolutely sign up as a member and I'd be mad keen to get down there for the first game because I think it'd be fantastic for the competition. And I'm speaking as a mad Carlton fan, but they'd certainly be my second team straightaway.

BUSH: Senator Anthony Chisholm. Thanks so much for your time this morning. I recognise you've got a race off. Thank you.

CHISHOLM: Thank you.

BUSH: Senator Anthony Chisholm from Queensland there who you heard has some very strong ties. Family ties here in Tasmania does visit on a fairly regular basis and was involved at one point as a secretary to the Queensland Labor Government when the AFL came to them to establish their second Queensland team, the Gold Coast Suns and as you heard the cost impost certainly shared with as far as the Senate Senator could recollect no ongoing requirement for financial support to the AFL, after the team was established.