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Cold Comfort For Charity In Lotto Revamp


31 October 2002


One of New Zealand's leading not-for-profit organizations says it expects no benefits to itself from Lotto's re-vamp.

The Lotteries Commission last week announced plans to create a millionaire a week and to turn an extra 30,000 people per week into winners.

"These changes may persuade more New Zealanders to play Lotto but they won't make it any easier for us to access the funds raised," says Peter Blomkamp, Chief Executive Officer of the Royal New Zealand SPCA.

"Despite the fact that we are one of New Zealand's most popular and respected charities, we have always found it absurdly difficult to acquire Lottery Grants Board funding. To make matters worse, we now have reason to believe that Parliament is poised to legislate away any prospect we might have of accessing such funds in future," he says.

According to Mr Blomkamp, local SPCA applications for support have been regularly turned down by the committees charged with distributing the overwhelming majority of Lottery Grants Board funds.

"These applications have been filed by SPCAs from all around the country since the launch of lotto and, to the best of our knowledge, none has ever succeeded in receiving funding," he says.

"We did receive two grants of $24,000 and $25,000 in 1998 and 2000 respectively in connection with a national campaign for de-sexing companion animals. However, these comparatively small sums of money were from the Minister of Internal Affairs' discretionary fund.

"We were also belatedly offered $100,000 in the early 1990s for a national education project. The offer was not taken up, as it was subject to us matching the amount. Our funds were inadequate for this and the project was subsequently cancelled.

"This compares to the millions of dollars regularly shelled out to other causes, some of which do not enjoy a fraction of our support from the New Zealand community" he adds.

Of even greater concern, according to Mr Blomkamp, are Clauses 247 and 248 of the Responsible Gambling Bill, which is currently before a parliamentary Select Committee.

"Clause 247 specifically states that Lottery Grants Board funding should be for 'community purposes only and for no other purposes' whilst Clause 248 extends this proviso to the Minister's discretionary grants. We understand from Lottery Grant Board Officials that these clauses will be viewed as disqualifying the Royal New Zealand SPCA from receiving any future grants," he says.

"We are absolutely disgusted by the arbitrary and discriminatory policies adopted by the Lottery Grants Board. We really can't help but ask: 'who do they think they are?'

"In a Democracy, one has the right to expect statutory grants to the not-for-profit sector to reflect the values and priorities of Society as a whole. The SPCA is one of New Zealand's most popular charities and it's a safe bet that many Lotto players are amongst our members and supporters. Certainly, many of them will be animal owners and hence potential beneficiaries of the services we offer," says Mr Blomkamp.

"We do not believe that animal welfare belongs in a totally separate category to all the other worthy causes which excite the generosity and support of New Zealanders. Nor do we believe that New Zealanders view us as less worthy of support than other charities.

"There is a growing body of evidence linking cruelty to animals with cruelty to other humans and especially children. If we want to build a decent and caring community for our children to inhabit, we need to take the welfare of animals seriously. Government and its agencies cannot wash their hands of this responsibility," he says.

Mr Blomkamp suggests that, up till now, the Lotteries Grants Board has been without a specific legal mandate for excluding animal welfare from the ambit of distributions from the general Lotteries Committee.

"We will be writing to the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Hon. George Hawkins, to clarify whether Clauses 247 and 248 of the Responsible Gambling Bill are to be used to exclude the SPCA and other animal welfare bodies from future Lotteries Grant Board funding.

"I doubt whether most New Zealanders would view that kind of exclusion as 'responsible' in any way at all," he adds.

For further information, please contact: Peter Blomkamp Chief Executive Officer Royal New Zealand SPCA 09 827 6094 021 179 0072

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