'Dress it up as women's sport': the new pork barrel

The_Wookie

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'Dress it up as women's sport': the new pork barrel
John Kehoe
By John Kehoe
Updated Feb 15, 2019 — 4.22pm,
first published at 1.58pm
https://www.afr.com/business/sport/...hcry-for-the-sports-lobbyists-20190215-h1bawl


"Dress it up as women's sport." Those are the words of a football code lobbyist trudging the corridors of parliament house in Canberra this week, seeking millions of dollars of taxpayer money to build an elite sport facility to be used predominantly by men.

There was one problem – the original construction plan at the rugby venue in Sydney had omitted to include women's change rooms.

Better fix that before talking to the politicians!

Women's sport is the new catchcry for sports organisations lobbying for taxpayer money.

If women are involved, how can a politician say no?

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg played along earlier this week on a different project, unveiling $15 million to turn Melbourne's iconic Princes Park into the new "home of women's AFL" in Victoria – the training ground of the Carlton Blues men's team.

Frydenberg, a Carlton football tragic and sport fanatic, trotted out in front of the television cameras for a kick of the Sherrin with the female Blues players.

Victorian Labor premier Daniel Andrews chipped in $20 million – not a bad contribution of other people's money considering he barracks for arch rival Essendon.

Pleasingly, women's elite sport such as AFLW and cricket is finally blossoming – and as the sports-loving father of two young daughters this is a fantastic development for female sports participants who for too long have been neglected for their male counterparts. We've really enjoyed recently attending women's AFL and basketball matches.


Bill Shorten and his Melbourne associate, Collingwood President Eddie McGuire, did a deal on the government giving $10 million for the Magpies training facility in 2012. Darrian Traynor

Yet lobbyists from the sporting codes have latched on to the female sports boom to suck more money out of the federal and state governments – often for related professional men's organisations.

The public is entitled to know that politicians and sports leagues may be gilding the lily on which genders are really benefiting.

The average Australian taxpayer who earns $84,600 is effectively cross-subsidising millionaire sportsmen.

The average AFL player earns $371,000.

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan is paid more than $1.7 million a year.

It's not like the AFL should be desperate for public money.

The AFL earns a record $2.5 billion from a record six-year broadcasting contract with Seven West Media, Foxtel and Telstra that began in 2017.

It is tipping $25 million annually into a sinking Gold Coast Suns men's franchise.

The AFL reported a net profit of $48.8 million in 2017.

Frydenberg's Carlton posted a net operating profit of $2.6 million – despite finishing 2018 as wooden spooners.

Both sides of politics have been happy to indulge head honchos of the sporting codes.

Then-minister for employment and Collingwood supporter, Bill Shorten, stood shoulder-to-shoulder with his friend and Collingwood President Eddie McGuire in 2012, to give $10 million to the redevelopment of Collingwood's Westpac Centre facilities at the Olympic Park Precinct in Melbourne.

McGuire is an influential voice in Melbourne media. His brother Frank McGuire is a Labor member in the Victorian parliament.

Of course, the concerned parties insisted at the time the federal government's commitment of $10 million would go "directly to the Community Centre facilities" at the venue.

The AFL is not alone. Rugby, rugby league, soccer and cricket are all in the ears of federal and state governments, getting their share of taxpayer funds.

The AFL is simply better organised and more effective.

Its annual schmoozing of politicians and journalists in Canberra has bought goodwill.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott's one-time adviser Jude Donnelly is now head of AFL government relations.

Positively, the AFL is very good at driving participation of women, children and Indigenous people in the game, including giving away team paraphernalia and footballs to young Auskick participants.

Such stadium spending doesn't always end well.

The NSW government wants to outlay $730 million to knock down and rebuild the Sydney Football Stadium at Moore Park, but was forced to backflip on a related plan to demolish Sydney Olympic stadium.

The NSW building certifier, Watson Oldco, part of the Lendlease-led consortium that is building the new Western Sydney Stadium in Parramatta and redeveloping the Allianz Stadium next to the Sydney Cricket Ground, has gone into voluntary administration after involvement in buildings with combustible cladding.

Sporting largesse is undoubtedly good politics. But is doling out public money to elite sporting organisations the most judicious use of finite taxpayer money?

Arguably, underfunded grassroots sports would provide better value for money to encourage community participation, health and fitness.

Yet with a federal election looming, women's sport looks like the newest pork barrel.
 

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telsor

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#5
It's a fair topic to have a crack at, but by gee it's really poorly written.
Agreed.


For the other shoe dropping...Susie O'Brien wrote a piece in the Herald Sun (and doubtless other newscorp papers) 2 days ago about how female athletes should have pay equality.
 

Kwality

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#6

Kwality

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#7
Pleasingly, women's elite sport such as AFLW and cricket is finally blossoming – and as the sports-loving father of two young daughters this is a fantastic development for female sports participants who for too long have been neglected for their male counterparts. We've really enjoyed recently attending women's AFL and basketball matches.
All given the reality that just because you play a game you attend that sport at the top level,:thumbsdown:, blokes or girls its a fact NOT . I acknowledge for many :thumbsu: thats not their view aka its bloody nonsense.
Next time you see a post claiming junior participation is a guide to attendances at the highest level .... :'(
 
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