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John Dowling Coates

Gimme $100m


The President, Chairman, Chef de Mission and Mahatma of Australian sport, John Dowling Coates turned dummy spitting into an Olympic event yesterday after the Crawford Report slammed the lid on the coffin bearing the corpse of a decrepit Australian Olympic movement.


The Report laid to rest the sporting ethos developed in the 1960s in Eastern European countries where you couldn't even buy a tomato sandwich let alone a decent hot dinner.


David Crawford heralds the end of the phoney war of national superiority waged by the bloated world-wide Olympic movement.


While Coates has continued to vault higher and higher up the greasy Olympic pole, sport in this country has been going to the dogs.


I was in Whyalla last week. The Town Tennis courts, once the pride of Whyalla tennis have been turned into a car park. The Concordia courts and the netball courts on McBryde Tce are just weed lots. The swimming pool hasn't got any water in it. The residents of Syme St and Hambidge Tce don't even care that Westies Oval has become a rubbish dump. The kids down there are inside watching videos instead of out kicking the footy.


Like many country towns the halcyon days of sport in Whyalla have long since gone. After spending billions of dollars at the top, nere a drop has trickled down to the bottom.


It's people like Coates that you can thank for this demise of local sport. It's not on the radar. Traipsing over to Whyalla doesn't have the same mystique about it as an all expenses paid trip to Lausanne.


The Government is about to put an end to a very long gravy train.


What's happened is successive Commonwealth Departments of Sport, overseen by a lack-lustre grab bag of Ministers have consistently been sucked in and bullied by the likes of Coates to fund a rag bag collection of tin pot Olympic Sports.


The current Minister of Defence made grand promises regarding sport for all programs before the Sydney Olympics. I can tell you what happened; nothing, just a dribble of dead duck programs that have since been starved of funds and strangled to death.


Now with the youngest Minister of Sport on record, Coates might have met his match. She's not one of them. She hasn't been around long enough to get close to the Olympic vortex.


She appears astute enough to see through Coates and end this Olympic farce, put a stop to taxes being used to swan plane-loads of Olympic athletes and flunkies around the world in the name of national pride. Anyone who's studied English Literature 101 would know that patriotism has always been the last bastion of the scoundrel.


The more money spent on Olympic sports the fatter, weaker and more depressed the Australian community has become. This minister wants to end the elite sport rort and put the money to better use. Good on her.


In a performance of Pattersonesque proportion, the Mahatma spent the better part of yesterday cranking up media events at which he put on the coat of indignation and used intemperate language to belabour his vapid point. He wants $100m.


Then he turned on the smarm on the 7.30 Report. He wants $100m


He dropped the name of the Prime Minister as someone who's going to give him the money. It's beneath his dignity to deal with the Minister. Bad move John!


Gab-gifted Coates is playing a cracked record based on the philosophy of his 1936 Olympic Games mentor, Joseph Goebels.


'The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.'


'Gimme $100m.'


What Coates doesn't realize is that not every one with an interest in sport in this country has a short memory.


Prior to the Sydney Olympic Games the Mahatma wheedled between $88 and $100m (depending on which report you read) out of the NSW Government to create a fund which would support Australian Olympic participation until kingdom come.


Now he wants another $100.


What he doesn't tell you is that the Sydney Olympics cost tax payers $8B for a two week sports carnival. Compared with that $100m is a spit in the bucket! Coates thinks he can sneak that one in under the radar.


'This is an insult to some of our great Olympic champions. Is Mr Crawford suggesting the gold medals won in Beijing by Matthew Mitcham, Steve Hooker and Ken Wallace meant nothing to the Australian people?''

Coates wants us to believe that if the Australian Government doesn't give the AOF $100m it will be insulting our great Olympians? That's bunkum, As for messrs Mitcham, Hooker and Wallace, good luck to them. They deserve every medal they get.


I know who Steve Hooker is; one of the handful of people in Australia who can whiplash themselves over a bar more than 12 feet high. Anyone who can go inch for inch with the great Sergey Bubka is some athlete. Mitcham is one of a handful of people game enough to dive off the ten board. I've done that. It's terrifying and it hurts. He's a genius, and almighty athlete, but a bit of arse on his last jump didn't go astray! It's a wonder Coates didn't invoke the heroic victory of Stephen Bradbury.


Of course we admire people with talent.


'I want $100m.'


The Crawford report sticks this ambition into a cocked hat, once and for all.


Coates thinks we can't read a set of accounts.


At the end of the financial year 2007, the Australian Olympic Foundation had a balance of $127,413,050 in it's account. Coates wants to make that $227, 413,050.


In 2008 the Foundation paid a measly $10m to the AOC. Over the last 8 years they've managed to dole out a measly $7m a year, hanging onto their grub-stake for dear life.


Coates wants more, $100m more He thinks the public purse is his for the taking. But he's not prepared to dip into the largess of the Foundation, the board of which is graced by such financial luminaries as John Hewson and Paul Bachelor. You can bet they lost a few bob in the last year, despite paying $433,803 in fees for management advice and fees to the likes of Schroders, Maple Brown Abbot Plus Asia Barclays Global Investors, Goodman Australia Industrial Fund, BGI Global Ascent Fund, BGI Multi-Opportunity Fund, GMO Australia Long/Short Equity Trust and Barclays Global Investment Equity Fund. You'd reckon Coates could persuade them to chip in for a good cause with a bit of pro bono.


And despite this wealth of financial experience the Foundation lost more last year than it doled out.


This year elite sport will receive $164m from the Commonwealth Government, much of it going to the Olympic Sports and the AIS. Coates thinks we don't know about this. He wants more.


Think about it, at $164m a year in today's terms that's $3b that's been poured down the Olympic black hole in the last 20 years - not counting the billion coming from the state sports institutes. Coates ignores the $50m or so they put into elite sport.


And what do we have to show for it. A handful of medals at the Beijing Olympics, close to half of them won by swimmers.


Gold, 13 medals, 6 by swimmers and half of them by Stephanie Rice. Last time we rode on Ian Thorpe's back.


Silver, 15 medals, 6 by swimming.


Bronze 17 medals, 8 by swimming.


We could have won a couple in the boxing if Coates had allowed the selection of Mundine and Green. He's not fair dinkum.


We could have won more if the Olympic athletes were selected on world ranking and not by country. That's a quaint system that Coates supports.


Then there's the athletes who could buy and sell most of us, who don't need any public support. They're doing very nicely, thank you very much. Let's hear it for the tennis players, soccer players, golfers, basketballers and the cyclists. They treat the Olympics like the second rate event it is.


Or is it the under-water grinning team (200 players), the wrestling (250) and weight lifting (200)teams that the Mahatma feels need more taxpayer largess? Or the other bobsled (10). These are sports where you could hold the AGM in a phone box.


The money spent on gymnastics would definitely be better spent on developing a franchise for the Flying Fruit Fly Circus. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent drilling little boys and girls to do the same boring tricks.


Will $100m draw out someone to clean up Usain Bolt? Doubtful. Go to an athletics meeting near you this Saturday and see just how vibrant this sport is. It's on it's last legs.


$100m, he's dreaming.


Coates always likes to draw Olympic funding comparisons with Australia and other nations. In the AOC High Performance Plan there are no figures for the amounts spent by the USA, China or Russia. Britain with a population of 60m spends $330A a year, France,  62m spends $300Am and Germany, 82m spends $260Am. In that context, the $147m spend by Australia for 20m people doesn't sound as lousy as Coates makes out.


Far from being the Mahatma of Australian sport, Coates is the dangerman. What we saw yesterday was bluster, the same bluster he's got away with for the last 20 years. He's a one man band, strutting and fretting on an increasingly larger stage, pedalling a tale, full of piss and wind, signifying nothing.


He's not interested in sport for all. By the look of him he's not interested in health, fitness and wellbeing. The only paddock he's been in lately is the fat paddock.


Warning to any politician; if you see Coates coming start running, cycling, swimming, rowing, sailing ..., anything to get away from him.



Chef de mission, Mahatma Coates, sits

down with fellow steakholders at another

nosh-up of Olympian proportions.



It's bunkum


Frank Blunt

Syndicating columnist

February 2009