Increases to Direct Athlete Support; Sports funding And Australia’s Winning Edge; Australian economy

Monday, April 22nd, 2013 @ 1:48PM

TV Interview Transcript – ABC News 24, News Breakfast with Michael Rowland and Virginia Trioli

E&OE – PROOF ONLY

VIRGINIA TRIOLI:  Now Australia’s professional athletes are to receive a funding boost. The Federal Government is today announcing increased funds for athletes through the Australian Sports Commission.

MICHAEL ROWLAND :  Later this morning the Government will also outline changes to the annual grants given to major sporting bodies. A shake-up that was  expected in the wake of the London Olympics. The Federal Sports Minister, Kate Lundy, joins us now from Canberra. Kate Lundy, good morning.

KATE LUNDY: Good morning.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: How extensive are these changes to the annual grants? How extensive will they be today?

KATE LUNDY: Well, this is the biggest shake-up in sports funding for a long time and we’re making the sports more accountable for the money that they expend on their high-performance programs.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: How will they be made to be more accountable?

KATE LUNDY: Well, we’ve got first of all the agreements with the sports mean that they need to demonstrate how they’re going to achieve their targets. Winning Edge sets Australia’s sights high. We want to be in the top five at the Olympics and so forth. So this funding package will ask sports to respond specifically to targets that they believe they can meet and they’ll be held accountable against those targets.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Is it – does it come down also, Minister, to setting more realistic targets especially in the wake of what happened in London?

KATE LUNDY: Look, it certainly does. And sports have been asked to present to the Australian Sports Commission and that conversation’s continued and the Sports Commission’s worked through quite a systematic formula to come up with the funding model that they’ll announce later today.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Could we feasibly see grants cut for some under-performing sports?

KATE LUNDY: Well, the focus here very much is on supporting sports to achieve their goals, their targets. They’re worked out in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Sports and the Sports Commission. And we ask – we’re also providing some transition funding to the Winning Edge strategy and system.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Now we had another set of funding arrangements announced yesterday I believe. And this had to do largely with Commonwealth Games athletes getting more money. Take us through what that involved.

KATE LUNDY: Well, that was a significant announcement. An increase of $3 million for direct athlete support but bringing in for the first time direct athlete support for Commonwealth Games athletes. So, athletes supported through that system will go from 600 up to 750 and bring in new categories for athletes competing at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games next year and allowing them to receive financial support for the first time.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Why was the need seen to increase funding or give a greater financial leg-up I suppose to athletes participating in the Commonwealth Games as opposed to the Olympics?

KATE LUNDY: Look, it’s an incredibly competitive global environment now and one of the lessons that came out of the London games was that we do need to support our athletes more effectively. Athletes don’t earn a lot of money. They receive this support, this financial support if they earn less than $60,000 in a year so we’re not talking about high income earners particularly. And of course, their training regime. If we are to compete on the global stage they need to be able to support themselves through that training program.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: How much of this extra funding for Commonwealth Games’ athletes is about avoiding a huge national embarrassment at not doing well in the 2018 Gold Coast Games?

KATE LUNDY: Well, one of the – I think very visionary aspects of the Winning Edge strategy is that it looks at all of the elite competitions going right through to 2020. Yes, we’re focused on the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, the Gold Cost in 2018 and Rio, the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2016. But in-between we have many sports that compete at world championship level and the Winning Edge looks at all of these sports, works with the sports to achieve their targeted outcomes and then holds them accountable. That’s why the Winning Edge is significant.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Minister, we’ve been talking a fair bit on the program this morning about budgetary dilemmas facing your Government in particular in the lead-up to the May Budget. Is it only fair that sports funding contributes to the spending cuts which seem almost inevitable once Wayne Swan does announce that Budget?

KATE LUNDY: Well one of the aspects of the Winning Edge is that we have been able to find some efficiencies within the Australian Sports Commission. There’s an overall very humble increase to the high-performance program but that’s been able to be found through finding some additional efficiencies. So I’m very proud of the way in which the Australian Sports Commission’s been able to manage these outcomes.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: And just in a broader political sense, we had John  Daley from the Grattan Institute on the show earlier  as well saying, well really the tough decisions have to be made for your Government in the short-term – spending cuts and tax increases to avoid yawning budget deficits. Do you agree that is now necessary?

KATE LUNDY: Well, we’ve got a terrific record on managing the budget of course. We’ve been able to keep Australia’s credit rating in the triple A. We’re one of eight countries around the world to do that. We’re also have been able to create nearly a million jobs at a time when 28 million jobs have  been lost worldwide. We’ve done this by managing the budget in a prudent way and we’ll continue to do that in challenging circumstances as the Treasurer said.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: They’ll only get more challenging so does that really put spending cuts and tax increases front and centre?

KATE LUNDY: Well, one of the things that you’ll get from Labor is a very clear articulation about where we spend our money and where we’re able to make savings. That puts us in stark contrast to the Coalition whose most recent contribution to the public debate about the Budget is that they will cut government services to the bone. That’s not a good way to manage a budget. It’s not sensible and it certainly doesn’t reflect the necessary I think balance in making sure that we’re able to go forward with a strong economy, maintain employment, keep interest rates down as Labor has done.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Okay, Kate Lundy, we’ll leave it there.

Ends

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