Image for My fury at TT Line. Clever Lara, says Mercury in eulogy. George loves it. Latrobe Speedway doesn’t

Management,  Spirit of Tasmania:

I was booked to sail on Friday, the 10th of June, from Melbourne.

I allowed myself two and half hours for the journey, given it was a Friday night on a holiday weekend. Normally it takes less than one hour for this journey.

The Monash Freeway became a car park; however I did emerge from the Burnley Tunnel at 6.24.

I immediately rang your number and asked if the final acceptance time could be extended. I was told: 6.45. No extensions!

I now find that you extended the time to 7.00pm.

Had you correctly told me of the extension I would have continued to the Dock and been on last night’s ferry.

I have been forced to re-book - at $100 extra cost - to travel tonight (Saturday). It has completely ruined a planned family gathering for today in Hobart.

I can only guess that you are desperate for every cent to pay for this ridiculous sponsorship of unwanted (by the AFL) North Melbourne. God, what a farce.

I request a full refund.

Furious, Victoria.

Ed: The writer’s full details - and his record of conversations - are available by contacting the Editor: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Mercury Editorial, Friday, June 10:

THE angst, the accusations of waste, the allegations of underhand tricks and grubby, back-room deals, the parochial jealousies, the blackmail and threats of political retribution ... there has been an astonishingly petulant, small-minded reaction from some people to the expansion of AFL football in Tasmania.

The deal with North Melbourne is great value for money. It gives Tasmania two extra games a year for a fraction of the cost of the four already played in Launceston and it secures the first taste of AFL in Hobart.

The benefits are incalculable, with increased economic activity for businesses large and small, generating a much-needed sense of optimism and excitement.

Critics say that the deal, clinched by a $500,000 sponsorship from the state-owned TT-Line, is all too rushed, with no time for a business plan to be prepared to justify the spending.

Have they not read the news stories?

The AFL was finalising its rosters for next year and needed a quick decision. The deal had to be done or the AFL was going to walk away and leave Tasmania as a football backwater, with no prospect of expansion.

Yes, it was a clever political twist by Premier Lara Giddings to secure sponsorship from a state-owned business and not try to raid the Government’s own depleted coffers.

Yet it is hardly a bad deal for the TT-Line. It is getting stacks of free publicity from all the stories surrounding this announcement alone. How many minutes of advertising would $500,000 buy on prime-time national television? Not many. It is just a fraction of the TT-Line’s annual marketing budget.

No one questions state-owned Aurora Energy’s sponsorship of the local netball league or its naming rights at Launceston’s AFL stadium. No one suggests that Aurora should stop all sports sponsorship and use the money to subsidise power bills.

Yet many people seem to think they know better than the TT-Line board, which sees this as an opportunity not to be missed.

AFL football is no ordinary event. It is not like sponsoring a fun run. National telecasts of matches from both Launceston and beautiful Bellerive Oval in Hobart are going to raise the profile of the state around the country and that can only be good for the TT-Line and everyone else.

Tasmania is a great, distinctive brand and most Victorians would like to visit, they just need a little prompting. Watching more AFL matches being played at Tassie venues is sure to help.

It is crazy to try to put a fence around Launceston and say AFL football cannot be played outside it. The AFL itself wants games in Hobart and Victorian clubs are lining up to play at Bellerive Oval. They can all see the opportunities of an untapped market, a city as big as Geelong in the football heartland.

The prospect of two Melbourne teams playing home games at either end of the state is exciting to both of them. There are suggestions of regular Tasmanian “local derby” clashes between Hawthorn and North Melbourne. Other big clubs such as Richmond are keen to be part of the action too.

They are all mystified by the petty, miserable squabbling in Tasmania over the chance to play a greater part in Australia’s biggest league.

And, as if by magic, at that very moment, Tasmanian cricket captain George Bailey penned a supportive letter to Mercury:

THE MERCURY   |  June 10, 2011 12.01am

TASMANIAN cricket captain GEORGE BAILEY argues for united state. Read his letter.

I AM proud to be a Tasmanian, however it continues to amaze and anger me that a place full of amazing people can be so narrow minded when it comes to which end of the state something occurs.

The current debacle surrounds AFL football in Tasmania. I don’t purport to understand the ins and outs of the economics of the set-ups but I do understand that for our investment to bring AFL to our state we will get a much-needed injection of cash into our economy, particularly local businesses.

The North versus South rivalry is primitive and just plain embarrassing. While we squabble we continue to have a net outflow of young people leaving Tasmania for interstate to pursue more vibrant employment opportunities.

Matthew Denholm reports that Tasmania has been labelled with the reputation of being a state “immune to development”. We will not rid ourselves of that label while we continue to grip the reins of economic growth and development so tightly, fighting over who gets to be the jockey for the day.

This bickering plays into the political parties’ hands. They then drip-feed both ends of the state, depending on where they need votes.

Tasmania, like all small communities, groups and teams, faces many extra challenges in its quest to grow and develop. Our energies need to be focused on the great places, resources and people we have at our disposal to continue to promote Tasmania as a great place to visit and an even better place to call home.

The way forward is through unity and a strength grown through our vision for what Tasmania could be, not through the short-sightedness of people who can’t see past their back fence.

George Bailey

Captain, Tasmanian Tigers

• Chris Pippos, Advocate, TT-Line knocks NW sponsor deal

STATE-OWNED shipping company TT-Line, which is tipping $1.5 million into six Hobart AFL games, is not renewing its estimated $10,000 sponsorship with Latrobe Speedway due to budget constraints.

The Advocate has been contacted by people linked to the speedway who are angry the request for ongoing sponsorship was denied shortly before the Spirit of Tasmania ferry operator agreed to a push by Premier Lara Giddings to spend $1.5 million on Kangaroos AFL matches at Bellerive oval in Hobart.

The Edgewater, in Thomas St, East Devonport, owned by TT-Line, had sponsored the speedway for the past three or four years.

However, TT-Line recently said it was too stretched for cash to continue the deal.

Liberal deputy leader Jeremy Rockliff said the revelation was further evidence TT-Line was “leant on” by Ms Giddings to sponsor AFL.

“Clearly this would demonstrate that TT-Line have budget constraints and quite clearly they were leant on by the government to cough up for footy in the South,” Mr Rockliff said.

Mr Rockliff called on the government to explain exactly why the speedway was denied sponsorship.

“It’s further evidence the government and the Premier were desperate to resolve the AFL issue,” he said.

Advocate story HERE