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Former Sports Minister calls for investigation of New Zealand sport structures and spending

Former Sports Minister calls for investigation of New Zealand sport structures and spending
October 3, 2016

Labour MP and former New Zealand Sport Minister Trevor Mallard is calling for an independent review of New Zealand sport.

The New Zealand Herald has reported that Labour's sport spokesman is unimpressed at weekend newspaer reports that show that 85 employees of Sport New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand are paid salaries in excess of $100,000.

The former Minister has said the role of Government agencies Sport New Zealand, and its elite sport partner, High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) should be reviewed.

The New Zealand Herald quoted Mallard as stating "I've always been unhappy with a separate high performance board and management which has duplications with Sport New Zealand and as a result has extra costs.

"It's time there was a proper review. We need to look really carefully at the shape of the organisations."

When Mallard was appointed New Zealand Sport Minister, he tasked Sir John Graham with chairing a review of the management of the country's sport.

Mallard said the review revealed a fractured and inefficient system with "bureaucratic duplication".

He fears the current model is now showing similar symptoms and it's time for comprehensive analysis.

Mallard told the New Zealand Herald "that review in 1999 ended up bringing together the part of sport that was in the tourism department, the Hillary Commission and the Sports Foundation and basically made one organisation all going in the same direction. It looks to me like stuff has dissipated again.

"I would want to get someone with a really good reputation for running an organisation and a good understanding of sport to have a proper, independent look at it to make sure we're got an organisation which spends appropriately."

According to their respective websites, Sport NZ has nine board members and HPSNZ has eight, with both boards chaired by Sir Paul Collins and dual positions for Bill Birnie and Murray Gutry.

Despite a record haul of 18 medals at this year's Olympic Games in Rio, the Weekend Herald suggested that several high-profile athletes are tired of feeling like 'second-class citizens' and being the only ones held truly accountable for performance.

Mahe Drysdale and Jo Aleh, who have five Olympic medals between them, including three golds, want a change to the way sport is funded in New Zealand, with an emphasis on athlete-coach funding, not system funding.

Olympic Gold medallist Valerie Adams also weighed into what is shaping as a fierce debate, saying her personal example offers a way forward.

Drysdale stated "more funding needs to go to the athlete and coach

"Every dollar spent should come with the questions: 'Does this help the athlete win? Will it help improve results?' Those are the areas the money should be going to."

Drysdale, Aleh and Adams want to sit down with country's sports chiefs and start a dialogue about the way forward for sports funding.

Top of the agenda are the high level salaries paid to Sport NZ and HPSNZ staff.

41 of the six-figure salaried employees work at HPSNZ.

HPSNZ Chief Executive Alex Baumann earned $420-430,000 in 2015, a figure that puts him just below the Prime Minister's salary. Peter Miskimmin earned between $380-390,000 as Chief Executive of Sport NZ.

Mallard said Baumann's role wasn't created during his term in charge, while estimating former hockey player Miskimmin could earn significantly more than $380,000-$390,000 in the private sector.

Miskimmin's salary band was $240,001-$250,000 when he took over from Nick Hill in 2008.

At the other end of the pay scale, athletes receive performance enhancement grants (PEGs), which are taxed, ranging from $60,000 for a gold medallist, to $55,000 for a medallist to $25,000 for those ranked top 12 in the world.

Athletes also have access to coaches, sports science, sports psychology, medicine, nutrition and physiotherapy.

Some high-profile athletes like Drysdale are able to secure endorsement deals to top up their income, but most prospective Olympians are faced with the reality of working while training.

Images: New Zealand's medallists from the 2012 Olympics in London (top), Trevor Mallard (middle) and Peter Miskimmin (below).

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21st March 2016 - REVIVAL OF PLANS FOR NEW AUCKLAND WATERFRONT SUPER STADIUM

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