Labour’s Sport and Recreation spokesperson Chris Hipkins has welcomed the Government’s change of heart over providing funding to support the iconic Rally of New Zealand.
“Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee has finally seen sense and reversed his decision last month when he declined an application to the Major Events Fund to support the event,” Chris Hipkins said.
“Or more likely, the about face has come about because of Prime Minister John Key’s controversial World Cup $300,000 gift to the All Whites — when New Zealand Soccer is already in line to receive up to $10 million from the world game for going to South Africa.
“Mr Key’s lavish spending of New Zealand tax dollars to get himself into yet another sports team changing room photo op will have irked many New Zealand sports that have not been so blessed by this government.
“Regardless, this is great news for the Rally organisers. As I said at the time when drawing attention to the Government’s snub, declining the funding put the event in real jeopardy, which would have been a big loss for our tourism industry.
“The televised event is beamed into many millions of homes overseas and gives our country great international exposure.
“Mr Brownlee’s lack of leadership caused a lot of unnecessary angst among the rally organisers. They were sent from one department to the next until finally been told to go away altogether last month.
“Whether or not Mr Brownlee has had a genuine change of heart or was cornered due to Mr Key’s decision, New Zealand’s rally community and tourism operators will be relieved the Government has finally come to the party,” Chris Hipkins said.