It will be fascinating to see whether the event or events Team New Zealand might bring to Auckland under the banner of the America's Cup are enough to plunge the Government's hand back into the pocket of taxpayer funding.
Funny thing, public reaction. Politicians and marketers have known this for aeons, of course. We really are a fickle, two-faced, short-sighted bunch. Earlier this year, when Emirates Team New Zealand received $5 million to kick-start their next America's Cup campaign, a burst of letter writing, internet troll-ery and talkback angst occurred - tortured souls wringing their hands over the fact taxpayers' money was being used for sport. Sport! The very idea. How soon we forget how Team New Zealand lit up this country.
How soon we also forget Dean Barker's assurance that the $36m that went to the 2013 campaign was repaid even before the team left for San Francisco - through PAYE and GST. If you include Luna Rossa's tax bill while they trained here, it jumped to $55m - credible, measurable things.
At the time, one correspondent complained the $5m was given to Team New Zealand on the same day sawmill workers in Rotorua and freezing workers in Shannon lost their jobs. Another bemoaned the fact schools, hospitals, welfare organisations and the like had to jump through hoops for financial assistance while wealthy America's Cup sailors didn't. The implication was that the rich schmooze political cousins for favours while those on the minimum wage have to lick the road clean for dinner.
So it's easy, then. All we have to do to solve the problem of the jobless and those on the poverty line is ... not have an America's Cup campaign. The $5m can be stripped off those grasping sailors and re-distributed to the poor and New Zealand will indeed be God's Own Country again. Yeah, right.
Part of the problem is politics. Team New Zealand's biggest 'crime' was not winning the last America's Cup.
The opposition they are facing now stems from that and the $5m needed to keep the syndicate alive when there was no event, no location and no detail to dangle in front of sponsors. It played into the hands of the internet trolls who emerged from their burrows looking for somewhere to aim their spittle. Their mantras were, "why give money to people who own mansions in Herne Bay" and "yachting is an elitist, rich man's sport. Let someone else sponsor them."
Having said that, there seems little doubt patience for the public purse being opened for the America's Cup has shortened. This government is adept at taking the public pulse and there's another election due in 2017, the same year the Cup will be decided in Bermuda. It's obvious the Nats, seeking a fourth term, will not want to give Labour a spar to beat them with.
Recent utterances by John Key, Steven Joyce and the Treasury reveal that cooling. Treasury's objection seemed largely based on the fact New Zealand could still derive the benefit without having to stump up any taxpayer money. Aha! There is a benefit then. We just don't want to pay for it. Beancounters everywhere rejoice. Just as well Team New Zealand have Grant Dalton, a fundraiser extraordinaire.
Public money also inevitably raises the question of what Dalton and Barker and others are paid. It's not good PR, even though most of those complaining about accountability wouldn't want their salaries published either.
What we are really listening to when we hear the word 'accountability' is envy, not some matter of public principle.
Let's also take stock. Team New Zealand have raised millions from overseas sponsors and spend about 70 per cent of their income in New Zealand. Bringing the Cup back to Auckland would bring undeniable benefits to this country - and so would Team New Zealand landing the challenger qualifying series here, although with some set-up costs.
Perhaps the answer is to make this the last time taxpayer money goes to Team New Zealand. They could also add a clause that, should they win the Cup, they repay the $36m in some form other than tax returns. After all, we know the bounty an America's Cup in this country brings.
But this is politics and does not always involve the nation's custodians doing what is best for our nation as opposed to what is best for the custodians - just like the current America's Cup custodians' choice of a tax-break venue makes it harder for non-billionaire-funded syndicates to compete.