Thousands protest new AFL stadium, call for funds for housing and health

May 13, 2023
Thousands protest the new AFL stadium. Photo: Robynne Murphy

In one of the largest rallies to take place in Tasmania’s capital, between 6000–7000 people protested in front of Parliament House to say “no” to a new football stadium — costing $715 million — in the heart of the waterfront. It was organised in 7 days.

Protesters carried signs indicating where they want funds spent: “Build homes, not a stadium” and “Hospitals, Housing, health care, education — not a white elephant”.

The protest was an indication of the deep level of community indignation over secret deals between Premier Jeremy Rockliff and the Australian Football League (AFL) to put sports and gambling profits above the health, education and affordable housing.

The AFL has blackmailed Tasmania saying “no new stadium, no new Tassie AFL team”. Yes, Tasmanians want an AFL team, but a new stadium is very unpopular.

The Premier announced the state would provide $375 million and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on April 28 Labor would chip in the rest — $240 million — although Labor indicated its funding was for an urban “redevelopment” project at Macquarie Point.

The protest, chaired by Richard Flannigan, took place a day after two Liberal MPs — John Tucker and Lara Alexander — quit the party to sit on the cross bench.

Speakers from Greens, Labor and Independent MPs addressed the crowd. They were Senator Jacqui Lambie, Tasmanian Greens leader Cassie O’Connor, Hobart Councillor Anna Reynolds, and Independent MPs Meg Webb and Andrew Wilkie. 

Despite the pressure, Minister for Police, Fire, Emergency Management, Skills, Training and Workforce Growth and Resources Felix Ellis said the government would not budge, and that it would “get on with the job” of building the stadium.

“We’re a proud state, we’re a footballing state, and we need to deliver on this so Tasmania can take its rightful place,” Ellis said on May 13.

[A NO - AFL Stadium in Hobart - Wrong Priority petition has more than 26,000 signatures so far.]

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