Do the crew of Team New Zealand really want to be known as New Zealand's highest paid beneficiaries?
The headlines after Grant Dalton said on Friday that without an immediate cash injection Team NZ would be gone by the end of the month made me utterly incensed.
Well, guys, now that you're back home with the storms and the wind and the rain of a New Zealand winter, welcome to the reality of being a contract worker.
I have no idea why Dalton believes Team NZ will go under. The reasons for the dire financial straits weren't clearly explained. That may be the fault of the media rather than a lack of disclosure from Dalton. But if the money is for the retention of key personnel, as has been said in the past, the Government's already coughed up some dosh to keep Team NZ together. The team got a handout immediately after they lost.
But I'd love to know why these "key personnel" haven't saved enough from the money they've earned in previous Cup campaigns to tide them over.
Are they really so poor at managing money they can't keep the wolf from the door without sucking off the Government's tit in between jobs? And let's be clear, every time you read the word "Government", substitute "taxpayer", because that's where the money will be coming from. It's money from the people on low, middle and high incomes who pay their taxes, who then have to accept the Government will make the best choices on how that money is distributed.
Other sailors are lucky enough to work for teams with billionaire owners who will keep the money pouring in until such time as they have proved they have the biggest swinging dick in the yacht club.
I'm not sure New Zealand Inc can afford to play that game. I have no doubt our sailors and designers are world class.
Come on, guys — seriously? You lost
and you've lost for the past 14 years.
They are hard-working, innovative, inspirational people. That's why so many crews around the world have employed them. And I have no doubt previous America's Cup campaigns have been good for the country — whether it be the jingoistic David and Goliath feel-good factor or, more importantly, the redevelopment of Auckland's waterfront.
But come on, guys — seriously? You lost and you've lost for the past 14 years. That's okay. The All Blacks have lost, too. And the NZRFU demands taxpayer money as well.
But at least any kid can try to be an All Black. In this country, and many we sail against, there are kids who haven't even seen the sea, far less learned the ropes of yachting. And there you are, Grant Dalton, calling a press conference, asking for taxpayer dollars.
I know it's hard for you. You believe utterly in what you're doing and that, ultimately, everyone in this country will benefit from your labours. But you've been in that rarifed world of multimillionaires for too long.
While you staged your press conference, there were hard-working men and women sitting trying to sort out which bill to pay first and praying the creditors didn't set the dogs upon them before they could post a cheque. Have you never met the talented individuals working on contract, waiting for the big break, who eke out an existence doing jobs they don't want to just to survive?
Oh, sure. A lot of other talented sportspeople get grants and taxpayer dollars. In a way, the Government is acting like a taxpayer-guaranteed TAB — betting on teams and individuals to repay taxpayer dollars.
But instead of asking what this country can do for you, key personnel of Team NZ, ask yourselves what you can do for this country?
Because, quite frankly, it looks to me like you've done bugger all. Show me one study that says we have achieved, as a result of Team NZ's participating in the America's Cup, a significant, sustained, percentage growth in our GDP.
Like it or not, it's our farming sector upon which our fortunes rise and fall. Follow the share price of Fonterra and you'll see the rise and fall of the NZ dollar.
QED. And I know some of us don't like it; we'd like our fortunes to be more diversified and spread among sexier industries, like movies, luxury boat building and wine, but that's the way it is.
Those farmers who get up every morning at 4.30 are the reason New Zealand survives and why, if the Government approves a Team NZ beneficiary bail out, the "key personnel" will be able to stay in their glorious homes in Herne Bay and not be forced to relocate to a rental in Blockhouse Bay.
Enough. If Team NZ's position is so precarious that it cannot hang on another six months, maybe it's not worth keeping it afloat.
Why don't some of the men who've done very well out of the sport take out personal loans until such time as the sponsors' money arrives?
Why not pass the hat around yachting enthusiasts? If every time the syndicate is strapped for cash Grant Dalton sees the only option as running to the Government, it's time the cycle of dependency was stopped — for the team's own sake.
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