Wednesday, 15 August 2018

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Rescue helicopter petition presented to Parliament

Walter Russell and Brian Bowering of the Coromandel Rescue Helicopter Trust presented on Tuesday morning last week a petition to Scott Simpson, National Party MP for the Coromandel, and Jan Tinetti, Labour Party list MP, calling for the Coromandel rescue helicopter base in Whitianga to be retained.

Mr Simpson and Ms Tinetti accepted the petition on the steps of Parliament in Wellington. Later on Tuesday afternnon, the petition was presented to the House of Representatives and read out in Parliament.

The petition was launched on 5 May this year at a public meeting about the possible closure of the base and has attracted 8,500 signatures.

The petition will now be considered by the Parliamentary Health Select Committee. The committee will in due course invite petitoners to make written submissions or appear in front of them in person. They will also take advice from officials of the Ministry of Health before making a recommendation to Parliament.

The Health Select Committee is chaired by Louisa Wall of the Labour Party. The deputy chair is Shane Reti of the National Party. National and Labour each have four MPs on the committee.

A decision on the future of the Coromandel rescue helicopter base is expected in August. If the base remains open, the petition process will become obsolete. If the base is closed, the process will continue. 

Mr Simpson says the Government has failed the residents of the Coromandel Peninsula by not including the rescue helicopter base in the review of nationwide rescue helicopter services that is currently underway. "It is difficult to see how clinical outcomes can be improved if air ambulances are dispatched [to the Coromandel] from further afield," he says.

Ms Tinetti says it was a privilege to stand alongside Mr Simpson to receive the petition. "Having been to the Coromandel rescue helicopter base in Whitianga and having seen just how amazing this service is, my role is to keep advocating for the base - something I am very happy and honoured to do," she says.

Pictured are (from left to right) Walter Russell, Jan Tinetti, Scott Simpson and Brian Bowering with the petition on Tuesday last week.

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