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National’s sports policy simplistic

30 June 2008

National’s sports policy simplistic and out of touch

National Party leader John Key’s simplistic view of grassroots sport in New Zealand clearly shows he is out of touch with both the challenges facing the sector and the solid work being done, said the Sport and Recreation Minister Clayton Cosgrove.

Mr Cosgrove said contrary to Mr Key’s claims, the amount of taxpayer money being spent to administer Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) has actually been falling as a proportion of total expenditure. Since SPARC was established in 2003, administrative costs have been cut from approximately 18 percent to 12 percent of total expenditure – a 30 percent drop in only five years.

“What we are actually seeing is a trend of increasing efficiency and more direct investment in the sport and recreation sector. This government has lifted taxpayer funding for sport and recreation from $2.5 million in 1999 to $69.5 million in 2007/08 (in addition to Lotteries funding). This has resulted in more money going directly to our national sport organisations, to sport scholarships, and to regional sports development, as well to fund important social awareness campaigns,” he said.

Mr Cosgrove said the National Party is seriously out of touch with its plan to give schools some more bats and balls in the hope that kids will simply just decide to use them. “In the old days you didn’t have to convince kids to get off the couch but today there are so many competing influences that you have to use technological channels such as TV and the Internet to reach them. That is why we need programmes such as Mission On and Push Play that encourage kiwis of all ages to get active and stay healthy.”

“It is important that schools are provided with quality sports equipment and that is happening but we are also providing meaningful assistance for schools, such as classroom resources and sports coordinators, so that the onus is not all on teachers to commit more of their own time after school to get students active, as Mr Key suggests.”

Mr Cosgrove said that the Hillary Commission, under the National government, had at least 80 different brands and programmes, so it is rich for Mr Key to criticise SPARC for having eight different brands spreading healthy lifestyle messages.

Mr Cosgrove said the National Party plans to pour more money into clubs but is against capability development. “The reality is that unless we improve management skills and governance structures for sporting bodies and sports clubs, as this government is doing, it is like pouring money into a black hole.”

Mr Cosgrove thanked Mr Key for his endorsement of the Physical Education curriculum currently underway in schools, but said National should come clean on its plans for the wide range of other sport and recreation initiatives currently funded.

“It is good to finally see National offering up policy to public scrutiny, but you will find its sport and recreation policy has enough gaps to shoot a basketball through.”


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