Bunbury MLA Don Punch has vowed to fight to secure ongoing funding for the South West Rescue Helicopter Service by taking the concerns of the community to Premier Mark McGowan and Emergency Services minister Fran Logan.
Since it was unveiled in Bunbury in February 2016, the rescue helicopter service has been funded by a grant from the previous Liberal-National state government that expires on June 30, 2018. Now in opposition, the Nationals have criticised Labor for not providing forward funding for the service in the 2017/18 state budget.
They recently launched an online campaign to ‘Save Our Rescue Helicopter’ with a petition to urge the government to continue funding for the service.
Mr Punch said the South West rescue helicopter is a priority for the community and as the local member he will be fighting to ensure it is maintained.
“I know the value the community places on the South West Rescue Helicopter and I will be doing everything I can to make sure its operations are funded into the future,” he said.
“I have toured the South West Rescue Helicopter facilities a number of times, including with the Emergency Services minister, and I have nothing but praise for the service and crews that run it – they have my full support.”
Mr Punch also slammed the previous government for failing to adequately fund the rescue helicopter service when it entered into agreements that limited funding to June 30, 2018.
“The failure of the previous Liberal/National government to adequately fund the rescue helicopter service was a gross dereliction of responsibility,” he said. “Now they have blocked budget repair measures which means there is less money to go around, so we must work hard to secure scarce funds for priority services.”
Since its inception, the South West Rescue Helicopter has flown more than 440 missions. Last financial year alone it transported 172 patients to hospital.
“I understand that the government has to address many competing priorities but there can be nothing more important than the health and safety of our community, so the helicopter must be considered an essential service and funded accordingly,” Mr Punch said.