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SPARC Criticism Overdue

SPARC Criticism Overdue

Sports bodies, local councils and regional sports trusts throughout the country are so afraid that SPARC will put its foot on the funding pipeline, that they will not speak out, leaving Neil Tonkin to criticise the body for them, ACT Sport Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"Mr Tonkin is wrong in only one thing: he calls SPARC's language `corporate speak' when, in fact, it is not. Remaining carefully invisible on recent significant sport policy issues, SPARC has shown itself to be a classic Government poodle, yapping in bureaucratese," Mr Franks said.

"Yet they aren't standing up as a policy agency either. Answers to my Parliamentary Questions show no sign of consultation with SPARC over the $5.6 million funnelled to Team New Zealand under the Cabinet's `picking losers' strategy for yachting.

"SPARC was nowhere to be seen in protecting other codes from the Rugby Union's pre-Christmas grab for a statutory monopoly on the silver fern. That monopoly was blocked only by an ACT veto.

"SPARC's axing of the Community Sports Funding scheme over $4 million from local decision making, left sports bodies more vulnerable to central government disfavour. Grass roots coaching and facilities lose to the SPARC-favoured high-profile codes.

"And SPARC is still silent on the Government scheme to confiscate pub charity money for central allocation, keeping it from sports clubs. The politically correct appointees of the arty fartys in Cabinet will get to steer the money to their preferred pastimes - and away from what they see as nasty competitive physical activity.

"What use is a Sports Agency that is too cowed to stand up for sport?

"Next Monday, the Prime Minister hosts Sir Edmund Hillary to a luncheon in his honour in Wellington. It would seem a sincere gesture if her Government had not dropped his name when the Hillary Commission was taken over. It didn't suit the ideologues of central planning - they preferred the menacing title of SPARC," Stephen Franks said.

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