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Litigation Withdrawn as Mayor & Wellington Step Up

AUCKLAND RESCUE HELICOPTER TRUST

MEDIA STATEMENT

THURSDAY 13 MARCH 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Litigation Withdrawn as Mayor & Wellington Step Up

The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust has today abandoned its plans to sue the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board over 2014/15 funding cuts after Mayor Len Brown announced Auckland Council will work to fix the current funding arrangements in time for the 2015/15 funding round.

This afternoon, the Mayor announced he would work with his council colleagues to plug the $900,000 funding gap for the 2014/15 financial year and work with Central Government to fix the flawed Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Act 2008, which forces essential rescue services to compete with arts organisations for funds.

Associate Local Government Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has since confirmed the Government will work constructively with the Mayor on the issue.

Senior opposition MP David Shearer has also announced that the Labour Party will co-operate with speedily fixing the problem.

“This is fantastic news and the Mayor, Minister and Mr Shearer are to be commended for recognising the current situation is not acceptable,” Murray Bolton, Chairman of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, said today.

“It enables us to abandon the litigation for 2014/15 and future years, saving our helicopter service about $300,000 and ratepayers about $500,000 a year in legal fees – a genuine win/win for everyone. We look forward to meeting with the Mayor and his team in the next few days to work out details.”

Looking ahead, Mr Bolton said the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Act 2008 had been passed prior to the new Super City being formed and was in any case fatally flawed, forcing essential rescue services and arts organisations to compete for funds.

“Let’s be clear: we have nothing against the orchestra, the arts festival, the opera or the theatre – we just don’t want funding for our essential service to be cut to support them,” he said.

“We look forward to discussing with the Mayor and the Minister what changes to the legislation are needed before funding decisions are made for 2015/16, to avoid the acrimony of recent years.”

END

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