Duncan Garner: My change of tack - sink public cash into Team NZ's Cup defence
OPINION: I confess that originally I didn't want taxpayers' money being thrown at our America's Cup bid in Bermuda. I couldn't see the benefit and leverage for Kiwi taxpayers.
Our lads sailing miles away in a tax haven of 64,000 people and it could only be watched on pay-to-view TV. Clearly the Government saw it the same way.
I could barely see the benefit of millions being pumped into the San Francisco bid. But it was.
But I've seen the light and fallen for the foiling.
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We should sink public money into Team NZ's Cup defence. Because the game has changed.
Hosting the regatta here could be worth up to $1 billion to our economy. The last one here in 2003 was worth $600 million and apparently it created more than 9300 jobs.
Back then a Labour Government pumped in $38m of your hard-earned tax dollars and copped considerable criticism.
But Team NZ is bringing not just a yacht race back to the country, but a significant international economic event. They deserve our collective support.
We know what to expect now. It's the World Cup of elite yachting and coming along for the ride are some seriously wealthy rubber neckers, and us other paupers who might buy a few beers at a waterfront bar along the way.
So the Government needs to hit the phone and call that tough old salt dog, Grant Dalton, and ask him what he needs and how much. Yes, demand a business case, but this time there is so much in it for New Zealand.
Former PM Helen Clark said the same thing this week - help out Dalton's world class crew and defence.
Corporate sponsors may not be a problem long-term, but if Dalton needs quick money to keep Peter Burling and his team together then the Government should cough up - without hesitation.
Keep this brilliant and humble bunch of genuine champions together at all costs. (Does anyone think Peter Burling looks like a young Sir Ed Hillary?)
And a quick note to the sponsors: no doubt they'll stick around, Emirates, Toyota and co, congrats for keeping the faith when we got the speed wobbles.
We also found out this week that Dalton was struggling to pay June's salaries to the team and they were on reduced wages.
Now they're trying to flick a few boats online to get some money back.
Stuff that; the Government and country is about to benefit hugely through future economic activity, jobs and an increased tax take - that being the case, stump up and help Team NZ.
Of course money will go into infrastructure as it should, and this is truly time to finish Auckland's waterfront once and for all, but I'm talking about separate money for Team NZ the sailing team.
Dalton should not have to struggle to keep this team afloat. He has fought against world superpowers for 14 years to win the Auld Mug - the least we can do now is give him a red carpet ride with a properly-funded defence.
And I have no problem with Dalton's conduct this week in firing a few barbs at Oracle and Jimmy Spithill.
Oracle made it as hard to win as humanly possible. Dalton and his boys were outsiders. Oracle and their bankers wanted Team NZ to sign up to a protocol that would see the America's Cup racing always follow the Bermuda format.
We bravely refused. No-one owns the Cup. The winners are merely guardians until they lose it.
For that gutsy step Dalton should be acknowledged. For winning it he should be knighted. For defending it here, we should help fund it.
PLAIN ENGLISH FAILS TRUTH TEST
I'm still struggling to believe Bill English knew next to nothing of the Todd Barclay secret payout.
All the evidence suggests otherwise. English has just come out of his worst and most brutal week in politics. The gloss came off.
Rather than tell us what he knew - we've witnessed a PM that looks like he's holding something back. His story chopped and changed for eight days.
It's affected his credibility as he enters a brutal election campaign. This is not about payouts and tapes - this is about whether English has told us the truth.
I seriously doubt it going by his changing version of accounts.
He finally got it right on the political management side of things by saying he has "nothing more to add".
But the damage has been done. His struggles were openly noticed by those closest to him - my sources tell me his National MPs were far from impressed with English's handling of his first real scandal.
Now many are privately worried about a high stakes four-week week election campaign - and it's clear English will need to up his game, he just got a taste of the dress rehearsal - and he failed. It will only get harder from here.
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