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Sport For Young Kiwis

4 July 2008

Sport For Young Kiwis

On Monday I outlined National's policy for boosting the participation of young Kiwis in sport in this speech. Watch my related video journal here.

Sport is an important part of growing up in New Zealand. Kids who are out there playing rugby or netball or soccer or softball, or any sport, aren't just getting fitter and healthier - they're learning about teamwork and co-operation, about playing fair, and about winning and losing. Regular involvement in organised sport is habit-forming.

The kids who play sport through their childhood and teen years are much more likely to be the adults who keep fit in later years. And I think we can make a significant difference to troubled young people if we can get more of them playing sport.

Participation by kids in sport is declining, but there are many benefits for kids and their communities, in increasing that participation.

I want a far more practical approach to funding sports by focusing government sporting dollars where they will make a difference - at the front line in schools and sports clubs.

National will:
- Give schools additional resources over time to ensure more students can take part in extra-curricula organised sport.
- Ensure more of the government's sport spending gets through to the front line.

We will do this by carefully re-prioritising government funds currently dedicated to a host of bureaucratic anti-obesity campaigns. Ministers in a National-led government will be given clear priorities - more sports coaches and equipment, and fewer advisors and reports.

One striking thing that has occurred under Labour is the number of overlapping programmes and initiatives. It's hard to understand why we need at least eight different government programmes encouraging people to eat healthier and exercise more.

National will look at all these to ensure we get the balance right between funding promotional programmes and telling people to lead healthier lifestyles, and funding actual sports organisations with actual facilities where sport is actually played.

Another striking thing under Labour is how little of the budgeted millions actually flows through the bureaucracy and into schools and community organisations.

A report this week indicated that the average employee at Sparc earns more than the average employee at the Reserve Bank.

This year, Sparc will spend $5.5 million on its website, and between 2006 and 2010 it has budgeted $11.5 million for the website. That $11.5 million would give almost $6,000 worth of sports equipment to every primary school in New Zealand. That's a big boost the kids in every community could really benefit from.


I struggled to get around Auckland this morning during the truck protest.

The Labour government has to step up and admit it was wrong to raise commercial road user charges without any warning on Monday night. It has shown contempt for the road transport industry and for businesses up and down the country.

The Minister of Transport promised the Road Transport Forum last year that she would modify the Road Users Charges Act so the Government could give truckies and other commercial road users a month's warning of any increases. The Minister's failure to do this is a breach of good faith.

The increase in the road user charge of about 7% for a typical truck comes at a time when the trucking industry is really struggling with higher fuel costs. These costs will eventually be passed on to all New Zealanders in the form of higher prices for food, clothing, and every other essential good that gets transported by road.

The hike in the road user charges for diesel vehicles came on the same day that Labour hiked the ACC levy on petrol by 2c a litre, and increased vehicle registration fees by $40 per vehicle.

These new costs for motorists and truckies were introduced just before Michael Cullen admitted that Labour paid a "premium" to buy the railway assets of Toll.

Hiking transport costs just when people are struggling with higher living costs and when Labour has paid several hundred million dollars too much for the trains and the ferries, is a slap in the face for every Kiwi road user, consumer, and taxpayer.


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