Bread and circuses are prescribed to pacify the mob but an entertainment centre should do the trick

And if we run out of elephants, we could teach Gerry to sit up like this.

Alf is anticipating a bit of a hullabaloo from a raft of community groups that need weaning off government handouts.

The buggers are complaining today about the Government’s cutting $1.5 million from the Community Organisations Grants Scheme and giving it to four areas of its choosing.

Just imagine their chagrin when they find out about the $650,000 for rugby parties the Government is handing out in Christchurch.

More specifically, according to the Ministerial statement, the dosh is for a new temporary entertainment and performance events village to be set up in North Hagley Park.

The money will be ladelled from the Major Events Development Fund, according to the announcement today from Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Acting Economic Development Minister David Carter.

This is bloody good politics.

Christchurch needs cheering up after being constantly shaken up, and the poor buggers will be missing out on the Rugby World Cup matches that had been scheduled for their city before the earthquakes scuttled those plans.

The community workers who are being starved of funds are bleeding hearts who probably vote Labour.

Brownlee said the government has also backed the Christchurch City Council plan to stage a Rugby World Cup 2011 fanzone and festival events in the North Hagley Park events village and a travelling fan zone for east Christchurch.

The government’s New Zealand 2011 Office had supported the NZ2011 Festival Lotteries Fund panel to allocate an extra $491,000 for the Rugby World Cup 2011 fanzone and festival events in Christchurch.

This additional $491,000 allocation is on top of the $628,000 of lottery grants already announced for REAL New Zealand Festival events in Christchurch during Rugby World Cup, bringing the total funding for Rugby World Cup events in Christchurch to more than $1.1 million.

The North Hagley Park events village will also support a wide range of events including the Christchurch Arts Festival, TV2 Kids Fest, the International Jazz Festival, New Zealand Cup and Show Week, and the World Buskers Festival.

“The North Hagley Park venues will be available for events before Rugby World Cup, during and into 2012, which is great news, because Christchurch is desperately short of corporate and entertainment venues following the 22 February earthquake,” Mr Brownlee said.

Carter said events were one way of giving people a welcome focal point as Christchurch rebuilds.

“It is clear that residents and visitors are eager to take part in the Rugby World Cup, and the events sector can make this happen, but the city needs the venues.”

“The events village is one way the government can help support the Christchurch hospitality and tourism sectors as we work together to have the central city up and running again.”

Christchurch will also benefit from REAL New Zealand Festival events which are touring nationally, including the REAL New Zealand Music Tour of rock bands.

Mr Brownlee said he was pleased the council would still be delivering a Rugby World Cup fanzone as it meant the government funding could leverage Christchurch ratepayers’ investment.

“We may no longer have any Rugby World Cup games in Christchurch but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun, support the All Blacks and also be great hosts for the international visitors that will join us in the fanzone, celebrating the games and the tournament,” Mr Brownlee said.

Way to go, Gerry.

“I am also pleased we have managed to put together a programme for east Christchurch people with a travelling fanzone that each weekend during the tournament will visit a new east Christchurch venue with music, entertainment and live rugby.”

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker is expressing his delight that the city will be joining in the fun of the tournament.

“There are a great number of events which will still be happening in Christchurch during Rugby World Cup 2011 and we’re pleased the city will be a part of the excitement of the tournament.”

Of course, we can expect battalions of buggers who vote Green or Labour and don’t like having fun to wail about money being misdirected.

The aforementioned community groups, already bleating about budget cuts to the Community Organisation Grants Scheme, typically comprise do-gooders who think money should be given to them for pursuits they regard as worthy.

Grassroots and voluntary organisations say reducing the $14m scheme’s funding by 11 per cent will have a huge impact on the social services they provide at a time of increasing need.

Alf wasn’t paying attention at the time, but Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Tariana Turia apparently outlined the changes this week.

She said the funding would go toward an initiative aimed at supporting community-led development.

The Stuff mob seem to be up with the play.

Cabinet papers show four “hard to reach” communities that struggle to access support and resources will each receive $375,000 a year. They will be selected through an incontestable process.

Cogs funding was targeted to pay for the initiative because it is the largest Crown-funded scheme within the sector, accounting for 70 per cent of community-based funding.

The papers also show Mrs Turia acknowledged the change would have an impact on community groups. “Some may miss out, or receive a smaller amount.”

Ms Turia apparently has told Waatea News the funding will go to communities in Northland, Auckland, Wellington and the lower South Island.

But the stroppy Sue Bradford is among those kicking up a fuss.

As spokeswoman for Auckland Action Against Poverty she is accusing Ms Turia of unilaterally cutting mainstream funding so she could give large grants to select groups.

“Why is the minister able to pick and choose groups of her liking?

“Cogs has a democratic distribution system. If there is a transparent and objective process here, I’d love to know about it.”

The Working Women’s Resource Centre in Auckland is among those that have been dipping into the fund, and obviously is in need of becoming less dependent on taxpayers’ largesse.

It receives $3500 a year from Cogs, which enables it to run a helpline.

Organiser Ros Hiini said the organisation could not survive without the funding. “It’s terrible. It makes us wonder if we are going to be able to continue. I’m sure that many organisations feel like we do.”

Wellington Rape Crisis received $10,000 last year and was counting on getting more because it has already budgeted to receive the same this year.

A bit presumptuous, eh?

Agency manager Natalie Gousmett said she was concerned about the changes.

“Cogs covers the salary of our services co-ordinator, who does support work and manages our counsellors, as well as some of our rent.”

Wellington Rape Crisis might have to look at reducing the hours of the co-ordinator if its Cogs funding was decreased.

The organisation was already struggling because funding from other sources had fallen, while the recession had led to more demand for its services, Ms Gousmett said.

Alf suggests these people move down to Christchurch and join in the fun.

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