Tasmania to get answer on AFL team next week
JEFF Kennett's "whisky" and a "hug" with Premier Peter Gutwein over AFL discussions have been put on hold after the AFL finally committed to delivering an answer on the future of a stand-alone Tasmanian team by the end of next week.
Despite the Hawthorn president touring Tasmania over the past week, which included the unveiling of Hawks' legend Peter Hudson's statue on Monday and a buying spree on antiques and local whisky, the return of Parliament for 2021 prevented Mr Gutwein from a face-to-face chat with Mr Kennett.
Mr Gutwein demanded the AFL provide a definitive answer by mid-year on the state's ambitions of a Tasmanian AFL team by 2025.
Hawthorn and North Melbourne need certainty about their futures in Tasmania, as the state government pays them a combined $8 million a season to play four games each in Launceston and Hobart respectively.
After saying a Tasmanian team might end up a financial basket case and being labelled the "most conflicted" person in the debate over a stand-alone Tasmanian team by Mr Gutwein, Kennett took the high road at "Huddo's" event on Monday, and looked forward to a chat, possibly over whisky.
"I'm not going to get involved in all of that today - this is Peter Hudson's day as far as I'm concerned," Kennett said.
"Let me just say, send the Premier kisses and hugs."
Mr Gutwein also got tough with AFL boss Gill McLachlan, and in Parliament on Wednesday said: "Mr McLachlan committed to providing an answer by the end of next week and I will provide an update on Friday March 12.
"He said that correspondence would inform how the state proceeds with deals for Hawthorn and North Melbourne matches to be played in the state.
"The deals expire at the end of this year.
"If the AFL won't work with us, I will outline how we will fill the weekends with content.
"Importantly, Mr McLachlan understands very clearly our desire to have the consultant's work on the Tasmanian AFL Licence Taskforce report completed by the middle of the year, and that the agreed consultant must be someone that is independent and suitable to both the AFL and the state.
"Having the work completed by the middle of the year will enable us to move forward with clarity, make arrangements with Hawthorn and North Melbourne, and, importantly, take the next steps towards our own Tasmanian team."
Originally published as Tasmania to get answer on AFL team next week