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Victorian Government says golf a great invest -

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Reporter: Simon Santow

ELEANOR HALL: Credit may be drying up around the globe but the Victorian Government has just spent
up big to lure one the world's most famous sportsman to the state. Golfer Tiger Woods has agreed to
accept an appearance fee of $3-million to play a tournament in Melbourne in November.

The bulk of this fee will be paid by the Government which was engaged in an intense bidding war
with the New South Wales Government over the sporting star.

But will the money spent by the taxpayers of Victoria be a good investment?

Simon Santow reports.

SIMON SANTOW: He's without doubt the best golfer of his generation and quite possibly the best the
sport has ever seen, so not surprisingly getting Tiger Woods to come and play golf in Australia is
no easy thing.

TIM HOLDING: From a Victorian Government perspective, we make no apologies for spending to bring
the very best major events and the very best sportspeople from around the world to Melbourne.

SIMON SANTOW: The state is already proud of its grand prix, horseracing carnival and tennis.
Victoria's Major Events Minister Tim Holding won't confirm the reported $3-million price tag for
adding big-name golf to the mix but the fee is guaranteed by the taxpayer.

TIM HOLDING: All of these events bring people from interstate and from overseas. They showcase
Melbourne on an international stage and they create jobs and generate a huge economic benefit for
our economy.

SIMON SANTOW: That argument is causing quite a stir in sporting mad Melbourne.

CALLER: I'd go pay pretty much you know premium price to go see him because he is a phenomenon.

SIMON SANTOW: Not all the calls to 3AW this morning were as positive.

CALLER 2: No, I think it's disgusting and it's just nothing short of a junket really.

CALLER 3: G'day, how are you?

PRESENTER: Okay.

CALLER 3: What happens if he doesn't make the cut?

PRESENTER: Well if he doesn't make the cut he still gets the money.

CALLER 4: Why can't he just go there and try and play the game and put something back to everybody
and give it all back to everyone else. Even with the economy the way it's just even morally wrong.
What about all these poor people that are losing their jobs? And here's the Government giving money
away just to get some guy here.

SIMON SANTOW: On ABC local radio, this call from a disability rights campaigner.

CALLER: I really have to ask, what is the Government's priority? Is the role of the state going to
be to blatantly subsidise private gain? And I really think that the Government really should be
looking at its own priorities and what is the community benefit test to this?

SIMON SANTOW: And host Jon Faine challenged Sports Minister James Merlino on the boast it would
turn $3-million into $19-million.

JAMES MERLINO: This is the economic modelling that has been quite commonly used in terms of
estimating the economic benefit of our major events calendar and it looks at things such as
tourism, both interstate and international.

You know, we're expecting with Tiger Woods at the Australian Masters this November crowds of 70,000
to 100,000. It looks at the impact in terms of jobs. It does look at the impact in terms of the
coverage of Melbourne...

JON FAINE: Will you release that modelling?

JAMES MERLINO: ...both interstate and internationally.

JON FAINE: Will you release that modelling?

JAMES MERLINO: You make estimates before events Jon and then post events you actually look at the
final costings of the event...

JON FAINE: Will you release that modelling?

JAMES MERLINO: The modelling, the modelling has been audited by the auditor-general.

JON FAINE: But will you release it?

SIMON SANTOW: New South Wales says it too had wanted Woods, but not for this year's Australian
Open.

GEOFF PARMENTER: Oh I think they're to be congratulated. I think that clearly is something that
they've decided would work well for them this year.

SIMON SANTOW: Geoff Parmenter is the chief executive of Events New South Wales. He warns getting a
return on investment is not guaranteed.

GEOFF PARMENTER: If you spend it at the right time as part of a long-term strategy I think you
could well build a good business case for that.

But you know the challenge is to try and get that money back as a one-off investment, to try and
demonstrate that if you spend, you know, $3-million, $4-million, $5-million on one initiative that
you're going to drive the sort of visitor dollars and the sort of exposure that that money
warrants.

SIMON SANTOW: New Zealand in 2002 landed a sporting coup when they brought Tiger Woods out for
their Open Championships.

ALLAN MCKAY: At that stage of course Tiger had just completed the Grand Slam so he held all four
major titles. The very thought of getting him to appear in New Zealand even just to go sightseeing
was enormous but to get him to actually play and perform created an enormous public appeal for
golfers and non-golfers.

SIMON SANTOW: Golf professional Allan McKay was instrumental in bringing Woods out to New Zealand.

ALLAN MCKAY: I think it's going to be a wonderful experience. He's a very popular person and he's a
very, very nice guy to deal with and I wish you guys the best of luck.

SIMON SANTOW: Despite the hype, overseas travellers were nervous in the wake of September 11.

ALLAN MCKAY: You couldn't have written a worse script for the four months prior to the New Zealand
Open for when Tiger came.

SIMON SANTOW: And then tournament organisers made some mistakes.

ALLAN MCKAY: They got the ticket prices wrong and I think that it did prohibit a lot of people from
putting together the whole package of travelling, hotel, accommodation, meals and then too big a
ticket price.

We needed other players and the organisers did try desperately to get other players, obviously not
of the same quality. But you can't really stack the tournament with one player. We needed other
people. And yeah, I would hope that they would get ticket price correct and have the course packed
out, similar to a British Open or a US Masters.

ELEANOR HALL: Some lessons there. Allan McKay is the golf pro who helped to bring Tiger Woods to
New Zealand seven years ago. Simon Santow with our report.