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Alexander: Search & rescue shouldn't cost arm-leg

Alexander: Search and rescue shouldn't cost arm and a leg

Adventurers should have insurance cover to meet the cost of any rescue operation they require, rather than expect the taxpayer to pick up the increasingly costly tab, United Future's civil defence spokesman Marc Alexander said today.

"The high costs of search and rescue operations should not be borne by taxpayers," Mr Alexander said.

"It's crazy that Kiwis are paying around a million dollars a year to pluck these adventurers from risky situations they have willingly placed themselves in.

"While some have suggested a bond for full-cost recovery, it would make more sense to have all such activities covered by mandatory insurance, and the premiums would be based on experience and skill as well as known risk factors," Mr Alexander said.

"Our country is well known as an adventurers' destination but that doesn't mean we should invite stupidity and have taxpayers picking up the tab. People have to be responsible for the decisions they make and accept the consequences of their choices.

"Responsible adventurers who are skilled and well equipped will not mind the small added costs of such insurance, but it will bring a much needed realisation of the potential risks and costs of help to those less experienced.

"After all, why should we Kiwis have to pay a nominal fee for an ambulance ride to hospital when we are sick, yet someone who decides to tramp off into the wilderness for a week armed with a sandwich and a corkscrew expects to get a multi-thousand dollar rescue involving countless volunteer hours for free?"

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