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Tasmania reviews $15 million football deal -

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Tasmania reviews $15 million football deal

Reporter: Felicity Ogilvie

PETER CAVE: The global financial crisis is forcing the Tasmanian Government to start playing
hardball with the Hawthorn Football Club.

At the moment Tasmania spends $15 million sponsoring the AFL team.

Tasmania has no AFL team of its own so it pays Hawthorn to be known as the Tassie Hawks and to play
four home games in Launceston every year.

But the five-year deal ends next year and the cash strapped Tasmanian Government wants better value
for its money.

Felicity Ogilvie reports from Hobart.

FELICITY OGILVIE: In the past fortnight the Tasmania Government has axed its Environment Department
and scrapped plans to build a new hospital in Hobart.

But it's only now reviewing its $15 million deal with the Hawthorn football club. The Government's
tightening its belt because it's facing a billion dollar shortfall in GST revenue.

The five-year, $15 million Hawthorn deal is up for negotiations next June. After the Hawks won last
year's AFL premiership the club's president, Jeff Kennett said Tasmania was getting a bargain.

JEFF KENNETT: I don't know what you'd be charged today, but it would be millions more than you are
paying at the moment.

FELICITY OGILVIE: But this morning after hearing that Tasmania's having second thoughts, Jeff
Kennett was on local radio fighting to keep the deal.

JEFF KENNETT: The Government's own independent assessment indicates that for that expenditure, it
brings in $16 million a year of added economic activity. Over five years, that's $80 million.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The Tasmanian Premier, David Bartlett, says he's not about to scrap the idea of
sponsoring an AFL team. But he's not going to give the deal to Hawthorn.

DAVID BARTLETT: Hawthorne footy club, although I accept many of the intangible benefits that Jeff
Kennett's just talked about, shouldn't just expect the Tasmanian Government to roll over and have
its tummy tickled when it comes to renegotiating this contract.

And yes, we would consider a process that might be a more open expression of interest process, or
request for tender process that would allow other football clubs in Australia wanting to deliver
the goods for Tasmania, to perhaps have a crack at it also.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Not all Tasmanians are convinced that the Government should be sponsoring an AFL

VOX POP 1: I think the various sporting clubs should take care of themselves, and the Government
should be looking at primary things like health, education and infrastructure.

VOX POP 2: I don't really have a strong opinion, because I'm not a footy fan.

VOX POP 3: I'm in favour of it, but then I'm a member of the Hawthorne Football Club, and have been
for a long time. But the economic benefit - you know, the tourists that it brings in and the
dollars it brings into the state I think more than offset what the Government spends on it.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The leader of the Tasmanian Greens is also a Hawks fan, but Nick McKim wants the
deal scrapped.

NICK MCKIM: We've got a global financial crisis coming down the line; we've got a State Government
which is slashing and burning on public services that it provides to the Tasmanian community; we've
got health problems, we've got problems in education, problems in public housing, problems managing
our national parks.

And in that context, to spend millions of dollars a year sponsoring an already very rich AFL team
is not the best use of taxpayers' money.

FELICITY OGILVIE: But the Government's own economic studies have shown that the $3 million it puts
in a year to Hawthorne brings at least a $16 million return to the state. Isn't that money well
spent in a global financial crisis?

NICK MCKIM: Well, Hawthorne were flying in and playing AFL games in Tasmania long before this
sponsorship deal was arranged, so it's disingenuous of the Government to make a specific link
between Hawthorne flying in to play games at Aurora stadium in Launceston and the sponsorship deal.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The Liberals support the Government's sponsorship of the Hawks and want it to
continue. They hope one day Tasmania will get an AFL team of its own.

And while public outcry didn't sway the Government's decision to get rid of the Environment
Department or the new Hobart hospital, the Premier says he's keeping an open mind about continuing
to sponsor an AFL team.

PETER CAVE: Felicity Ogilvie reporting.