The South West will get to keep its rescue helicopter after the McGowan Government caved to community pressure and a strong campaign from The Nationals WA.
Nationals Member for the South West Region Colin Holt MLC said a stampede of community support for The Nationals’ Save Our Rescue Chopper petition had forced the Premier’s hand.
Mr Holt said that the community had been justifiably outraged that Labor had committed to funding the Perth rescue helicopter service while the South West region was left in limbo.
“The rescue helicopter is a vital community asset which has helped save countless lives in the South West,” Mr Holt said. “I am proud we have been able to convince the Premier that the lives of South West residents are just as valuable as those in Perth.”
Member for Warren-Blackwood Terry Redman said the announcement the rescue helicopter would be funded contradicted comments made in Parliament just days ago by the Minister for Emergency Services.
“I asked the Minister to confirm the emergency helicopter funding last week in Parliament but he said it wouldn’t be considered until the mid-year review,” Mr Redman said. “Clearly there has been some pressure put on the Minister and I believe that pressure was a result of the strong community support of The National’s campaign.”
The chopper, which is managed by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Since February 2016 the chopper has completed over 400 missions, with 65 percent of these in response to road crashes.
Mr Holt said the McGowan Government’s cuts to regional funding had been savage but the rescue helicopter was one step too far.
“Our community has shown that when we stand together we present a very powerful voice,” Mr Holt said. “I would like to thank everyone who has got behind our campaign. This is a big victory for regional WA.
“Unfortunately, the McGowan Government still needs billions of dollars to fund their Perth projects so I am sure they will target regional services and projects again. We must remain vigilant and stand ready to fight.”