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Orienteering Chief Has “Had Enough”

12 April 2006

Orienteering Chief Has “Had Enough”

NZ Orienteering Federation President Rob Crawford has “had enough” of the escalating costs being used by the government organisation responsible for sport and recreation, while many national and regional sporting organisations are struggling to stay afloat.

The final straw has been the recent release of Parliament’s Financial Review into Sport and Recreation New Zealand (Sparc), which notes the attendance of seven Sparc Board members at the Athens Olympics at the expense of the taxpayer, for “sport-related conferences”. “While the reason given may be valid, how Sparc can justify seven of their nine board members attending such conferences with organisations such as mine running on the smell of an oily rag is beyond belief”, states Crawford.

Crawford believes Sparc costs have got out of hand. Their current forecast states the cost of Sparc to the taxpayer is approaching $15 million, whereas their predecessor (the Hillary Commission) seemed to survive on around $2.5 million. “While it may not be a valid direct comparison, it does point to an excess of spending that should be independently investigated”, he says.

Crawford is at pains to point out that he does not have an issue with Sparc’s philosophy that funding organisations such as his should be on the basis of an investment, rather than entitlement. “However minority sports such as orienteering have been placed in a Catch-22 situation with no obvious way out”, he states. “We can only access increased Sparc investment if we can demonstrate greater capability to assist them with their mission of making our country more active, but we are unable to increase our capability to deliver services without additional financial support, and the commercial solutions to that problem are extremely limited for minority sports, to say the least”.

Crawford notes with dismay that despite membership and participation figures for his sport increasing, the level of public investment is still lower in real dollar terms when compared to the late 1990’s. “The Graham Report gave minority sports some hope that with an extra $50 million being put into sport and recreation, there might be a small sliver of pie left for the impoverished. Unfortunately, the crumbs left on the table seem to be used for airfares to Athens, and no doubt Melbourne”.

Parliament’s recent report also comments on the performance at the Commonwealth Games. It states, “SPARC have set themselves high goals which they failed to achieve at the Commonwealth Games. We think it is inappropriate to blame the athletes or the individual sports as they are not responsible for the SPARC decision-making process which resulted in funding. SPARC must reassess the indicators of success against which they provide funding.”

Sports such as shooting who may fear funding cuts after the Games may have been thrown a lifeline by the most unlikely of sources.

ENDS

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