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Gifts and inducements kept secret by funding board

AUCKLAND RESCUE HELICOPTER TRUST

TUESDAY 11 MARCH 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Gifts and inducements kept secret by funding board

The secretive Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board is refusing to release its confidential “gifts and inducements register” which details which of its members have received free tickets from the orchestra, theatre and opera businesses it funds ratepayers money.

The board has increased funding to the orchestra, theatre and opera businesses each year while slashing funding to the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust which has a policy of not providing gifts to members of the Funding Board.

The trust runs the essential Westpac Rescue Helicopter which last year carried out 923 emergency rescue missions.

In 2008, parliament legislated that the rescue helicopter service would be part-funded by the amenities board to the tune of $1.5 million a year. The board has since slashed this funding by 70% to just $450,000 a year. with

Over the same period, the board has increased funding to the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra over the level indicated by parliament by 96% to nearly $3 million, to the Auckland Theatre Company by 77% to nearly $1.5 million and to the New Zealand Opera by 60% to $800,000 (see table).

The chairman of the rescue helicopter service, Murray Bolton, said the constant funding cuts would not be tolerated any longer, especially as the helicopter service was the only one of ten amenities to have had its funding cut by the board.

“We are already suing this board for irrationality, illegality and unfairness with respect to their decisions for 2013/14 and we will sue them again every year until they restore our funding to something at least comparable with the amount indicated by parliament,” Mr Bolton said.

“We are an essential rescue service for the people of Auckland, with 86% public support.”

Mr Bolton said the rescue service wondered whether its mistake over the years had been not providing free joyrides to members of the board, most of whom have an arts background.

“We think the media and the people of Auckland should be able to see the board’s secret gifts and inducements register, so everyone can know which of them have accepted gifts and inducements from the orchestra, theatre, opera or any of the other amenities they fund.”

Mr Bolton said details of planned litigation relating to the 2014/15 year would be released before the end of April.

END

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