So Who Is Responsible?

By David

The figures detailed in the previous Swimwatch post are a disgrace. They picture a sport where:

  1. The number participating has declined in the past four years by 18% from 21,141 to 17,329.

  2. In order to keep the sport afloat and in spite of dismal Olympic, Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific Games performances, Peter Miskimmin’s welfare support in the past four years has increased by 27% from $1,962,838 to $2,495,292.

  3. The amount invested in New Zealand’s best swimmers has declined in the past four years by 46% from $317,584 to $170,799.

  4. The amount invested in the national swimmer’s rewards program in the past four years has declined by 91% from $132,036 to $11,500.

  5. The amount spent on some, who knows what, “Other” category has increased in the past four years by 68% from $364,982 to $611,432.

  6. The amount spent on marketing (that’s another name for “spin”) and consultants (that’s another name for “can’t do my job”) has increased in the past four years by 125% from $49,753 to $111,840.

  7. The amount spent on “Administration”, that’s another word for “hangers-on”, has increased in the past four years by 61% from $420,674 to $682,099.

  8. The amount of the sport’s commitment to flash Mazda SUVs (it’s a tough drive over that Harbour Bridge) has increased in the past three years by 109% from $73,191 to $152,586.

  9. The new constitution denies the membership of New Zealand swimming the most basic of democratic rights. A central committee nominate who can stand for election and nominate only the number of candidates required to fill the vacancies. Millions are protesting in Hong Kong right now against exactly the same Communist tyranny.

Surely, surely there must be members involved in the sport who are unhappy with those numbers. And yet, what is being done about it? Are we all so scared of Renford, Lyles, Villanueva and Layton that they can say and do anything with impunity? Is there no limit to the reckless management data coming out of 17 Antares Place? At what point does someone say, “Stop, that’s enough”?

Take the position of Chairman of the Regions of Swimming New Zealand. Each one of them stood in an election wanting to take on the position of leading the sport in their part of the country. Each one of them probably worked for years to accumulate the experience and knowledge to run successfully for the position. But with their success comes responsibility. There is no power without a duty. And in this case the Chairman of each Region must carry the burden of protecting the sport from this SNZ rubbish. Is any Regional Chairman going to ask Layton, during the next telephone spin session, to explain what the hell he and his mate, Renford, are up to?

Perhaps I can help. Here is a list of the Chairman of each Region and a question for them to ask.

Willem Coetzee, Auckland – Why have the numbers participating in the sport gone down every year? How long does Mr. Layton think it will be before the National Championships will only involve straight finals? Is a lack of members the real reason SNZ elections have the same number of candidates as vacancies?

Jeannie Sibun, Counties Manukau – Mr.Layton, you don’t seem like a welfare beneficiary so why is it necessary to take more and more money from the government just to keep the sport afloat? Is it true that the government views their funding of swimming as a special need grant?

Simon Perry, Waikato – Mr. Layton, I am probably in the most powerful position to bring about meaningful change to Swimming New Zealand. Can you give me answers to the very real issues raised as a consequence of SNZ’s poor competitive record and the concerns evident in this set of accounts? For ten years the centralist policies followed by SNZ have not worked. What makes you believe they are going to work now?

Bronwen Radford, Bay of Plenty – Is it true that the commitment to spend $152,000 on leasing Masda SUVs is because Mazdas are the only things likely to go “Zoom-Zoom” in the Miskimmin swimming empire?

Andrew Wood, Taranaki – Was the blue print for the SNZ Constitution taken from Das Capital, Mein Kampf or An ABC Guide to North Korean Politics? Why are the Board Minutes no longer published on the SNZ website? Why are salaries no longer shown as a separate item in the Annual Accounts? Has the SNZ office become “17 Antares Place behind closed doors”?

Keith Bone, Hawkes Bay, Poverty Bay – With the amount now invested in New Zealand’s best swimmers dropping from $317,584 to $170,799 is it SNZ’s goal to bring these payments to swimmers in line with the $152,586 spent on Mazda motor cars.

Braden Noel, Manawatu – Was Mr. Layton aware that one swimmer winning the Mare Nostrum meets in Europe would now win exactly the same amount as the $11,500 offered by SNZ to New Zealand’s 5,498 competitive swimmers as the national “Rewards” program prize money? Had Mr. Layton worked out that the “Rewards” program is now $2.09 per competitive swimmer per year; just one cent short of the price of a hot apple pie from McDonald’s?

Mark Berge, Wellington – Of course management consultants are good people. Would Mr. Layton prefer scones with strawberry jam and cream or cucumber sandwiches after answering all these unnecessary and unimportant questions? Oh, and I will be talking to my solicitor in the morning.

Steve Fryer, Nelson, Marlborough – Since the year 2000 is Mr. Layton aware that the cost of his administration has risen by $272,255 more than the rate of inflation. Administration alone is now costing each competitive swimmer $124 per year; almost twice the registration fee. Does Mr. Layton view that as prudent management, as value for money?

Wayne Rollinson, Canterbury – Is Mr Layton aware that as a percentage of income SNZ has more expenses categorized as “Other” in their accounts than Silver Fern Farms, one of the country’s biggest meat producers? Is the huge use of a vague “Other” category because SNZ don’t know what the money was spent on or just don’t want us to know what the money was spent on?

Peter Deans, Otago – Down here in the deep-south we are only vaguely aware of the term “consultants”. Consultants seem to be more of a Wellington/Auckland thing. Can Mr. Layton tell us what on God’s good earth these people did for $111,840?

Geoff Finnerty, Southland – Would Mr. Layton mind if we had an independence referendum? We think we can do a better job on our own.

My apologies to Northland. Your website appears to be down which means you can listen to this question-and-answer session, nod your head occasionally and appear more intelligent than anyone else in the room.

I may have been a bit flippant here, but there is a serious side to all this. Someone needs to start checking these guys out. Given this set of accounts, leaving Layton and Renford unsupervised seems to me to be pretty serious negligence. Faced with the same information in the corporate world Directors who did nothing may be accused of “reckless trading”. Are the facts contained in this Annual report compatible with always acting in the best interests of the organization? With such a huge portion of SNZ income being provided at the whim of one civil servant does SNZ pass the solvency test of ensuring it can meet its debts as they come due. It may be worthwhile checking that SNZ’s directors’ liability insurance account is one of the payments made under the heading Administration.