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“I’ll make it happen”: Bill Shorten pledges $25 million for Tasmanian AFL team

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has a message for Tasmanian AFL fans: “I’ll make it happen”.

If it wins the next federal election, Labor will put $25 million dollars towards the establishment of the state’s first AFL club.

All funding would be conditional on the AFL granting a licence for standalone Tasmanian teams to compete in both the men’s and women’s AFL competitions.

“Some people might say that’s a lot of money, but we invest in football stadiums, we invest in sport. I think Tasmania is probably overdue for some of the love that has been spread around the mainland on sport,” Mr Shorten told Macquarie Sports Radio’s Cam Reddin.

The $25 million would go towards assisting with the establishment of Tasmanian VFL and TAC Cup sides, upgrades at local grounds and player development pathways.

Labor’s pledge comes after Tasmanian Nationals Senator Steve Martin called on the AFL to set a deadline of 2023 for a Tasmanian club to enter the league.

While Mr Shorten is yet to discuss his pledge with the AFL, he wants to make to make the prospect of a Tasmanian team so “irresistible”, the League is compelled to grant the state an AFL license.

“Tasmania was a foundation state of Aussie Rules and now to see it withering on the vine in parts of Tassie is a real shame and a real problem,” Mr Shorten said.

Hawthorn and North Melbourne have made the state their second home over several years, while the best Tasmanian players have been exported to clubs in other states.

Last week, AFL boss Gillon McLachlan announced the return of a side representing our southernmost state to the VFL, a decade after the Tassie Devils were pulled out of the competition to help develop the state league.

Click below to listen to the full interview