Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker has expressed serious concern following the possible cut to essential local rescue helicopter services across Fiordland and Southland.
“It is very concerning that local rescue helicopters in Te Anau, that have successfully operated for nearly three decades, may no longer receive Government funding after being left out of the Government’s proposals for helicopter rescue services,” Mr Walker says.
“This vital service covers Southland and Fiordland areas.
“It is unacceptable that this essential service is at risk of being moved away from this region. The Te Anau helicopters have helped to save lives and are an important part of a timely recue response service for our region.
“At this stage, it’s unclear why Te Anau has been excluded from the Government’s proposals. I am demanding to know why.
“The people of Te Anau and the wider region will be absolutely devastated to learn of another potential loss on top of the potential downgrade of the nearby Lumsden Maternity Centre. This is another blatant example of how rural lives aren’t important enough to this Government.”
Mr Walker says he will be seeking answers from the Ardern-Peters Government and has requested an urgent meeting with the Minister of ACC and the Minister of Health, alongside his fellow National MPs who have also been affected in the North Island.
“Our communities have not been included in this important discussion and the local Lakes District Air Rescue Trust was blindsided at being excluded. The coalition Government has talked about supporting the regions but their actions show the opposite. Actually, all regions matter,” Mr Walker says.
“Money is raised each year by our communities to support our rescue helicopters. The Government needs to include Te Anau in this funding round and give local people certainty about the future of rescue helicopters in Te Anau.”
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