Three visits in the past week have underscored the importance of the South West RAC Rescue Helicopter, with fears the service is under a funding cloud.
Comments from Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan haven’t helped soothe community concerns after he told radio listeners Opposition MPs shouldn’t bleat about a situation their financial management created.
Mr Logan provided a statement to the Times despite his office saying the future funding of the rescue chopper was now before cabinet and no further comment could be made.
The minister noted the RAC chopper was only funded until June 2018 by the previous government, but the Perth-based service was funded until 2021.
“We are in a very tough financial position,” Mr Logan said.
“I would ask those members from the previous government, who are so concerned about a funding situation the Barnett Government created, to lobby their colleagues to stop blocking attempts at fixing WA’s perilous finances.
“By not supporting the modest gold royalty tax increase, the McGowan Labor Government has no choice but to examine all funding options very carefully,” Mr Logan said.
Labor’s newly-minted Bunbury MLA Don Punch has vowed to fight for the funding.
Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman said the chopper was a vital service for residents and tourists in the South West.
“Without the rapid response provided by the rescue helicopter, help could be hours away for people in rural areas who are seriously ill or injured,” he said.
Mr Redman called on the WA Government to explain how the service could continue without funding.
“I am outraged by the comments made by Bunbury MLA Don Punch blaming the blocking of the gold royalty increase as the reason for reduced funds available for priority services,” Mr Redman said.
“Once again essential services in the regions have been targeted by the McGowan Labor government.”
More than 2000 people have added their names to a Nationals WA petition to rescue the chopper service.
On radio, Mr Logan questioned why the previous Government funded a multimillion dollar base for the service without ongoing funding.
Warren Hately : Thursday, 26 October 2017 11:58AM