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Helicopter Trust Asks Auditor-General To Investigate Funding

Helicopter Trust Asks Auditor-General To Investigate Funding Board

The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust will today write to Controller and Auditor-General Lyn Provost asking her to investigate the operations of the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board, going back to 2009.

The request for an investigation follows an interview given by Funding Board chairman Vern Walsh to RadioLIVE’s Sean Plunket today.

Since 2010/11, the Funding Board has allocated $66 million of ratepayers’ funds. In today’s interview, Mr Walsh revealed that his Funding Board follows no written or other publicly available criteria in allocating funds.

Mr Walsh also revealed the Funding Board holds no written records of which of its members have received gifts and inducements from the amenities it funds. This is despite the Funding Board’s gifts and inducements policy stating that its members may not receive gifts of any kind worth more than $150. Any gifts under $150 have to be disclosed.

There is no record of any gifts or inducements ever having been disclosed – despite the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra (APO) and the Auckland Theatre Company (ATC) confirming yesterday on Radio New Zealand Checkpoint that they provide free tickets to board members. Tickets to the APO’s forthcoming performance of Exotic Birds cost up to $125 each.

The Chairman of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, Murray Bolton, said he was appalled by Mr Walsh’s revelations.

“Over $65 million of ratepayers’ money has been allocated against no clear criteria and without any record of what gifts and inducements have been received by members of the funding body,” Mr Bolton said. “Our essential rescue service has had our funding slashed by over $1,000,000 with that money going to the orchestra. This situation is totally unacceptable and we are asking the Controller and Auditor-General to get to the bottom of how this funding board has been operating for the last five years.”

END

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