Thousands rally to denounce $715m Hobart AFL stadium
Thousands of Tasmanians have voiced their opposition to a $715 million stadium critical to the state's entry to the AFL, a day after the project brought the Rockliff government to its knees.
Australia's only state Liberal government was thrust into minority status on Friday after two MPs quit, citing concerns over state debt and government transparency around the planned build on the edge of the Hobart CBD.
Those issues were echoed at a rally outside state parliament on Saturday as thousands turned out with signs including, "Team yes, Stadium No. Tell the AFL where to go!" and "We can't eat stadiums or submarines".
"You can stick your stadium up your bum," musicians sang to applause.
Senator Jacqui Lambie soon joined in, telling Premier Jeremy Rockliff "Tasmanians have had a bloody gutful over your stadium and you can stick it up your bum."
Federal independent MP Andrew Wilkie addressed the rally, having earlier told parliament the 23,000-seat arena would look "at best like a monument to stupidity, at worst like a giant bedpan".
Tasmania's Labor opposition meanwhile took issue with the AFL making the stadium a condition of Tasmania getting a team licence to join the league.
The state will enter the men's league in 2028 with a pathway into the women's league to be announced.
"We all know a Tassie team is richly deserved and should've been granted with no stadium attached," Opposition Leader Rebecca White said in a statement.
"But what should've been a unifying moment for Tasmania has been ruined by Jeremy Rockliff's reckless decision to write a blank cheque for a stadium we don't need."
Making state budget announcements in Launceston, Police Minister Felix Ellis downplayed the Hobart rally's significance and stressed the stadium's importance to the future of the city and the AFL club.
"There are always views for and against when it comes to major projects - that's the nature of a small state," he told reporters.
"But we're really committed to continuing to consult with our community and to deliver important state-building projects so we can take Tasmania forward."
Mr Ellis echoed the premier's commitment on Friday to get on with the job of governing the state despite the departure of two MPs.
"Our clear focus needs to be on the Tasmanian public because they expect us to get on with the job," he said.
The Tasmanian Liberals now hold 11 out of 25 seats in the House of Assembly, forcing them to win the support of two of the six crossbenchers to pass legislation.
The stadium project is co-funded by the federal Albanese government with the prime minister saying the Macquarie Point site had been left "derelict" for too long.
Affordable housing will be built in the wider precinct, according to project announcements.