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National’s sports policy out of touch

3 November 2008

National’s sports policy out of touch and lacks vision

Sport and Recreation Minister Clayton Cosgrove said the National Party must have no idea of the huge gains made for the sport and recreation sector in the past nine years nor a vision for its future, given the content of its new policy.

“National’s sport spokesman Murray McCully must think the sector is still in the bad shape he left it in back in 1999. Fortunately that is not the case. At that time the sector was in freefall with participation rates tumbling, and during the 2000 Sydney Games we produced one of the lowest medal counts in our Olympic history.

“The government under Labour has turned this around. This year our Olympians produced New Zealand’s best result in 20 years, to cite just one example. “

The government’s investment in sport and recreation has increased from $4.6 million in 1999 to more than $75 million in 2008/2009. Once you add in the Lotteries contribution, the budget for Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) is more than $110 million.

Mr Cosgrove said the direct investment in the sector is already happening.

“Of that $110 million, nearly $80 million is being invested directly into our National Sport Organisations, National Recreation Organisations, Regional Sports Trusts, and the New Zealand Academy of Sport. This investment supports increased participation, organisation governance and development, and high performance programmes, including Prime Ministers Scholarships.”

Mr Cosgrove also noted the irony of the National Party’s stand on school sports.

“As was noted by a Sunday Star Times columnist in the weekend; ‘when it (National) was ruling the roost in the 1990s it single-handedly gutted the school sports volunteer sector with its insistence on bulk funding.’

“This government has worked hard to undo the damage the National Party inflicted on grassroots sports. We currently spend more than $20 million a year on nation-wide programmes that deliver direct support to communities, schools, and regional organisations. For example, this pays for more than 450 people working with high schools under the SportFit programme; 110 coaches working in their communities under the CoachForce programme; and more than 500 primary schools and communities receiving support through the Active Schools programme. These are the very programmes that Mr McCully and his leader John Key consider to be ‘bureaucratic fat’ that needs trimming.”

Mr Cosgrove said a government under Labour will continue to invest in grassroots sport and schools to improve the health of all New Zealanders, as well as support and develop the talent of our younger athletes coming through.

“The Beijing Olympics showed that the government’s High Performance Strategy is working, and we now need to take that to the next level as New Zealand looks to London 2012.”

Mr Cosgrove said the National Party’s plan to simply throw money at various sports organisations in the hope that it will make more young people pick up “bats and balls” is simplistic in the extreme, and offers taxpayers no accountability for how their money is spent.

“National has been trying to mislead New Zealanders by falsely claiming that a third of SPARC’s budget goes on administration when in fact it is less than 12 percent. Their argument over bureaucracy is nonsense.

“The government is committed to continuing to work closely with the sport and recreation sector – from the elite level down to the grassroots. Returning to the failed “hands off, low investment” approach of the 1990s when it comes to sport and recreation is not an option.”

Editors note: For full details on the Labour Party’s sport and recreation policy please visit the website

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