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Govt should rethink rescue helicopter cuts

Hon Tony Ryall

National Party Police spokesman

5 January 2005

Govt should rethink rescue helicopter cuts

Just when the Prime Minister is giving New Zealand 'its own tsunami warning', her Government is planning to decimate the number of rescue helicopters in the country, says National's Police spokesman, Tony Ryall.

"While the Prime Minister was away in Norway, thousands of New Zealanders signed petitions calling on her Government to put a stop to ACC's proposed cuts to rescue helicopter services."

In December, ACC recommended changes to the operation of rescue helicopter services in rural areas.

"In the Central North Island alone, the proposal will see three of four rescue helicopters downed, leaving a single helicopter based in Hamilton," says Mr Ryall.

"Rescue helicopters are an invaluable contingent capacity for emergency services which can be mobilised immediately in the case of an emergency.

"If the big one hits, we will need all the helicopters and all the help we can get. In the meantime, the helicopters are doing a splendid job saving lives in their communities.

"National is calling on the Government to dump the proposal to cut rescue helicopter services. If New Zealand is to learn anything from the tsunami tragedy, it must be the importance of adequate emergency and rescue services," says Mr Ryall.

ENDS

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