Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Abandoned race costs Govt $100k

Mr Joyce said the event would not receive any more taxpayer funding until organisers had demonstrated a sound business plan to get it successfully underway. Photo / NZ Herald
Mr Joyce said the event would not receive any more taxpayer funding until organisers had demonstrated a sound business plan to get it successfully underway. Photo / NZ Herald

Organisers of a new Auckland to Bluff yacht race will get to keep $100,000 in taxpayer funding despite the cancellation of next month's inaugural event.

Minister of Business, Innovation and Employment Steven Joyce announced a year ago that the event, billed as New Zealand's version of the Sydney to Hobart race, would receive $440,000 in taxpayer funding.

However this year's event was cancelled in September, with organisers citing uncertainty over the number of boats that would commit to taking part.

In its response to an Official Information request, the ministry confirmed last month the organisers had received $100,000 of that money.

They do not have to pay it back.

Green MP Julie-Anne Genter said the funding appeared to be "a pattern with this Government".

"There's money for yacht races, even ones that aren't going to happen but at the same time core services are being cut. It really shows the priorities of this Government are with the elite, with the people who are like John Key and his mates, the people who can afford to throw money at yacht races."

Dave Mee of race organisers SMC Events told the Herald that his company was working on a revised business plan for the race and a decision whether the race would go ahead in 2015 was still at least a month away.

If the event did not go ahead next year, there was still a chance it would occur in later years.

"Events, particularly in yachting, sometimes take three, four or five years to get momentum ... "

He said the initial $100,000 had been spent "on a whole host of things" including paying Australian consultants to investigate whether the Bluff port wharf was suitable for mooring racing yachts.

He said the company's spending was reported to the ministry and the Invercargill Council, which had also paid over $100,000 of ratepayers' money towards the event.

Asked whether the spending was value for money for taxpayers, he said his company had "probably invested staff time well beyond the money we've received".

Mr Joyce said the Government had "pulled the pin" on the event and it would not receive any more taxpayer funding until organisers had demonstrated a sound business plan to get it successfully underway.


A2B Blue Water Classic

• A race for super and maxi yachts from Auckland to Bluff.

• Received a government commitment of $440,000 in funding in late 2012.

• The inaugural race scheduled for February 9 was cancelled due to a lack of entries.

• Organisers have already received $100,000 in government funding as well as $115,000 in funding from Invercargill City Council.

- NZ Herald

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