Are They Really Worth This Much?

Sport NZ was established as a Crown entity on 1 January 2003 under the Sport and Recreation New Zealand Act 2002. Their purpose is to “promote, encourage and support physical recreation and sport in New Zealand”.

High Performance Sport NZ (HPSNZ) was established as a Crown entity subsidiary by the Sport NZ Board in August 2011 with a mandate to lead the high performance system. Its key objective is “making New Zealand the most successful sporting nation in the world by developing high performance sport”.

It is ironic that HPSNZ was established in the same year as Miskimmin and Moller changed Swimming New Zealand by imposing a new reactionary constitution. It is even more ironic that the CEO of HPSNZ for most of the period between 2011 and 2017, Alex Baumann, should have had swimming as his specialist subject.

Ironic because Baumann’s brief was to make “New Zealand the most successful sporting nation in the world by developing high performance sport”. Presumably that included swimming. Well that hasn’t worked out too well, has it? That is a rhetorical question. But, to remind you, here is the data on how well Baumann and Miskimmin have done in turning swimming into “the most successful sporting nation in the world by developing high performance sport”.

  1. The number of competitive swimmers is down by 8.1%.
  2. The number of coaches is down by 54.7%.
  3. The total membership is down by 24.9%
  4. The number of clubs is down by 8.3%.
  5. Government funding is down by 28.0%
  6. Membership fees are down by 0.7%.
  7. Total funding is down by 14.7%.
  8. The number of individual qualifiers for the Commonwealth Games is down by 83.3%.

So what did Baumann and Miskimmin do in the six years to reverse the catastrophic decline in the performance of this sport. The Sport NZ Annual Report tells me:

Many have re-set their strategic direction and developed capability in key areas such as insights, locally-led delivery and spaces and places. Together we deliver initiatives to address system-wide issues and create engagement that connects, shares and informs New Zealand on high performance good practice.

So there you have it. I hope it makes you feel that the sport is in good hands. If it does, you know a lot more about this than I do. Because after a reasonably good education and thirty years coaching I don’t have a clue what those forty four words mean.

But here is the really good news. Do you know what we paid Baumann and Miskimmin to rule over the terminal condition of swimming and write that rubbish?

Well, the Sport NZ chief executive’s salary, that’s Miskimmin, was within the band range $390,001 to $400,000 (2015/16: $380,001 to $390,000). And the HPSNZ chief executive’s salary, that’s Baumann, was within the band range $430,001 to $440,000 (2015/16: $420,001 to $430,000). Yes that’s right, and they gave themselves a 2.9% pay increase as a reward for the sterling difference their decisions had made in swimming and being smart enough to write words the rest of New Zealand didn’t understand.

And their efforts in directing the fortunes of Swimming New Zealand and writing meaningless reports were not theirs alone. They had help; a lot of help. Because in the Sport NZ Annual Report we are told that there were another 88 employees paid in excess of $100,000.

Sport NZ, it’s better than Lotto. To be paid, you don’t even need to win.

Has swimming got value for money? Has the contribution of Miskimmin and Baumann been worth over $800,000 per year? For two guys – $800,000! Almost a million dollars to rule over a sport that has seen every performance measure decline since 2011. And it is not as though Swimming New Zealand hasn’t followed Baumann and Miskimmin’s orders. The two Swimming New Zealand Chairmen, Layton and Cotterill, have been like two well-trained Labradors; fetching and retrieving to their master’s whistle.

That it hasn’t worked is saying the “pretty bloody obvious”. That’s why swimming needs a new direction. And needs a new direction pretty quickly before the multitude of junior swimmers competing in the regional championships this weekend have their careers put in jeopardy. The last generation were sacrificed while Miskimmin and Baumann lived off the fat of the land. That should not happen again.

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