Jobs may be at stake over fund­ing of NZ sport

Herald on Sunday - - IN OTHER NEWS - By An­drew Alder­son

The chances are some anx­ious folk are in­hab­it­ing High Per­for­mance Sport New Zealand and Sport New Zealand as the elec­tion re­sult teeters.

Jobs could be at stake with coali­tion talks set to in­ten­sify be­tween New Zealand First, Na­tional and Labour this week.

In sim­ple terms, Sport NZ is re­spon­si­ble for sports par­tic­i­pa­tion and the con­trol of gov­ern­ment fund­ing. HPSNZ is charged with help­ing New Zealan­ders tri­umph in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign, the Her­ald on Sun­day asked par­lia­men­tary par­ties’ sports spokes­peo­ple whether HPSNZ and Sport NZ should be sep­a­rate or com­bined en­ti­ties.

Labour’s Trevor Mal­lard’s re­sponse was “com­bined”, while Na­tional’s Jonathan Cole­man said the cur­rent ar­range­ment works well.

“HPSNZ be­came a sub­sidiary of Sport NZ in 2011 to fo­cus on pre­par­ing ath­letes to win on the world stage, with Sport NZ pro­vid­ing shared ser­vices,” said Cole­man. “Since then, we have grown our medal count at ev­ery Olympic Games, from nine in 2008 to 18 in 2016.”

NZ First sports spokesman Clay­ton Mitchell opted for the sta­tus quo: “If it’s not bro­ken, why fix it?”

As a sup­ple­men­tary, the par­ties were asked if it was more im­por­tant to in­vest in grass­roots or elite sport.

“The bal­ance of fund­ing has gone too far in favour of elite sport,” Mal­lard said. “Medals are im­por­tant, but ex­er­cise and par­tic­i­pa­tion are more so. School and grass­roots sup­port, es­pe­cially for coach­ing, needs a real boost.”

Cole­man said you couldn’t have one with­out the other.

Mitchell was more aligned to the stance of Na­tional.

Sports pol­icy might not be a deal­breaker but an amal­ga­ma­tion of HPSNZ and Sport NZ seems im­mi­nent un­der Labour. They will ar­gue a prune is jus­ti­fied.

A year ago, the Her­ald re­vealed 85 em­ploy­ees of Sport NZ and HPSNZ were on salaries of more than $100,000 in 2015.

The story had Olympic cham­pi­ons Dame Va­lerie Adams, Mahe Drys­dale and Jo Aleh ad­vo­cat­ing for ways ath­letes could ac­cess more sports fund­ing, given they were ul­ti­mately ac­count­able for per­for­mance.

Another key NZ First pol­icy is to es­tab­lish free-to-air sport on tele­vi­sion for ma­jor events.

In Jan­uary, NZ First leader Win­ston Peters told New­shub: “I’m not go­ing to say we’re go­ing to try to im­ple­ment it — we will im­ple­ment it.”

In March, Mitchell sub­mit­ted a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill aimed at amend­ing the Broad­cast­ing Act so any game of “na­tional sig­nif­i­cance” would be freely avail­able.

Na­tional and Labour voted against the bill which would in­clude ma­jor events such as the Olympics and Com­mon­wealth Games.

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