John Key’s Swim Team

By David

John Key is the Prime Minister of New Zealand. He leads the centre right party known as National. He is insufferably arrogant. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I’d like to throw him. He recently got parliament to approve a measure allowing the domestic spy agency to snoop on the emails of New Zealand citizens. He pathetically tried to justify the measure by playing the George Bush “fear of Al Qaeda” card. The “Desert Road” between Waiouru and Turangi is evidentially a breeding ground for men and women plotting to blow up the finish of another marathon, down a 350 seat jet liner or destroy a tall city building. The idea of New Zealand being central to Al Qaeda’s plans for world domination is as puerile as John Key. He tried to convince us that our personal freedoms were not at risk because he, that’s John Key, would personally make sure we were all protected; that the state’s new powers would not be abused. The devil would protect the pearly gates.

And John Key also owns a swim team. The group of swimmers known as the Swimming New Zealand Aqua Blacks are owned lock, stock and barrel by John Key. Every dollar that pays for their coaching, their management, their pool hire, their meet entry fees, their food and rations and their travel and accommodation comes from Key’s government. The money gets channelled through Sport New Zealand and Swimming New Zealand but the original cheque comes directly from the desk of John Key and his Minister of Finance, a Southland farmer, called Bill English.

Without the 100% sponsorship of the John Key government the Aqua Blacks would not exist. The members of this swim team are as dependant on the state purse as an unemployed beneficiary or a struggling solo mother on the Domestic Purposes Benefit. Regular Swimwatch readers may remember a story I told some time ago about a fifteen year old solo mother breast feeding her son in the West Wave recreational pool. Well David Lyles, Luis Villanueva and the suckling mother have much in common. All three spend much of their time in a swimming pool and the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, pays for them to be there.

This weekend I was surprised to learn how seriously the Key family take their responsibility as owners of the Aqua Black swim team. Key’s daughter, Stephanie Key, took it upon herself to model a range of new national swim suits. I’m certain they will get FINA approval as being manufactured entirely of natural materials. Certainly none of the suits seem to breech the FINA requirement that they do “not cover the neck, extend past the shoulder, nor shall extend below the ankle.”

However, I am uncertain what Lauren Boyle will make of the new uniforms. She has a choice of three. Perhaps the aquatic octopus look may appeal to Lauren and her fellow team members. Especially good for open water events, I would have thought. Pause for a moment and consider the heights Radford and Ryan may have reached with such a strategically placed octopus. I like the way Stephanie suggests that the New Zealand swim team should recognise the contribution of her Dad; notice the sign saying “Pop” in the snappy red number. That’s a lovely touch. What a thoughtful way to recognize the team’s principal sponsor. I see Stephanie is even making an effort to reduce the cost to her Dad of having his own swim team. Attracting McDonalds as a prime sponsor is a terrific idea. Way better than State Insurance. It may be even better if the French Fries were Kumara Chips. Camille Muffat needs no further help from us.

But there is a serious conclusion to all this. What on God’s good earth has the ownership of a swim team got to do with the government? Why does the government believe it’s just fine to support a dozen or so New Zealand swimmers ahead of all others? Swim teams are not the business of governments. Swim teams belong in the world of private enterprise.

In a report for the University of Tasmania, Des Moore included the following description of the role of Government.

“1. The reduced role of government in 1980s/90s has produced economic benefits without significant adverse social consequences and is consistent with individuals’ higher education levels and higher incomes.

2. Government’s role today should now be more as a protector of disadvantaged and regulator of private sector activity – not as a direct producer of goods and services other than defence and domestic law and order.

3. Existing government role still excessive – lesser role would improve economic efficiency and living standards — would also improve society by eliminating government assistance to particular groups that have no needs basis for it and by increasing employment of lower skilled.

4. Important to recognize that advocates of big government role often pushing their own barrows – or some barrow that reflects their view of how the world should be organised – history tells us that we should be extremely cautious of jumping on to such barrows.”

Mr Moore is absolutely right. John Key is supposed to be responsible for a central / right wing government. He has no right to be involved in supporting “particular groups that have no needs basis for it.” His government should never be involved as a “direct producer” of swimming services. Ownership of a swim team was not part of his manifesto; is not an area where the people of New Zealand want him to be spending their money. “Protecting the disadvantaged” does include the fifteen year old mother, caring for her baby at the West Wave pool. It does not include a dozen pampered and privileged or their minders in a state run swim school.

Of course Mr Moore’s final point that “advocates of big government often push their own barrows” could not be more accurate. Lyles, Villanueva, Renford, Baumann, Miskimmin and their fellow gang members are never going to agree with the idea that the provision of swimming lessons has nothing to do with John Key’s government and properly belongs in the private sector. If they agreed to that, who would pay them tomorrow? Without John Key’s left wing largess those guys don’t get paid. Without John Key these guys could well be caring for their young in a West Auckland Wave Pool.

  • David

    Andrew – I suspect you may be being sarcastic and with good cause. However a couple of foreign screwballs with a map of Sydney on their kitchen table with the location of a miniature medical reactor highlighted and who WERE CAUGHT thirteen years ago hardly justifies John Key opening everybody’s mail today. Next thing you’ll be telling me Guy Fox tried to blow up parliament so no one should be allowed to drive past the Beehive today. Key is dangerous because he loves power. This bill demonstrates the danger of men like Key.