Cabinet endorsed prime minister Paul Keating’s intention to decline a request from NSW premier John Fahey for an extra $500 million to help develop the site and services for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, arguing that support offered to the Olympics must be “tightly targeted” for optimal effect in boosting ‘s standing.
Then cabinet turned to the politicians’ friend, the lottery.
“The costs of this proposal could be defrayed by the introduction of a national Olympic Gold Lotto,” the minister for the environment, sport and territories, John Faulkner, told cabinet in April 1994.
“Many nations fund public sports programs by way of sports lotteries. While this has been suggested in , in the past alleged constitutional constraints have prevented its development. These can be overcome and indeed a national lottery (Oz Lotto) has recently been introduced.
Kieren Perkins with his gold medal from the 1994 Commonwealth Games.
“Properly marketed, there is scope for an additional national lotto associated with the Olympics, as various state legislation already provides for a means of hypothecation of lottery profits to specific causes.”
Cabinet rejected Lotto policy but agreed that would be judged (both domestically and internationally) on “its sporting success [and on] ??? the sporting heroes produced” rather than infrastructure.
To this end, cabinet was presented with a flow chart of the success of swimmer Keiren Perkins that informed a “Gold Medal Plan” designed to generate public support and ticket sales.
“It took six years between when Keiren was identified as having talent and winning an Olympic gold medal,” ministers were told, and they needed to take such gestation into account.
There followed detailed analysis testing the effectiveness of the “comprehensive talent identification” processes various sports had in train. Ministers were advised that “if financial support was confined only to those sports with sound medal prospects for the year 2000 then funding [for athlete preparation] could be reduced to $25.5 million per annum”.
If cabinet was thinking of paying $16 million per annum, ‘s national standing at the Games would be jeopardised. Senator Faulkner thought $30 million per annum a better bet. Cabinet agreed to $20 million, rising to $25 million in 1997-98.
Senator Faulkner received a colder reception when he proposed a Sporting Nation program in December 1995, seeking to ensure that the momentum of the Sydney Olympics was maintained in “a legacy of a fitter and healthier society”.
His pitch was for a national program ranging from the more co-ordinated development of a “recreation industry’ (needing “pump-priming” as a major service sector and job creator) to the provision of community-based multi-use indoor facilities.
Treasury dismissed it as “little more than a wish list”, something if acceded to “would seriously damage the government’s fiscal consolidation strategy”. Sport for All went no further – although the phrase would later emerge in several inclusion and diversity programs in and overseas.