A win for the Helicopter Trust

March 14th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has called for a funding board at the centre of a row with the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust to be scrapped following its recommendation to slash funding for the trust by half. …

“It is difficult for Aucklanders to make sense of a decision to cut the rescue helicopter’s funding by 70 per cent in the last five years, while increasing funding for the nine other regional organisations it funds by between 30 and 150 per cent,” the mayor said.

“I think we have to be upfront and say this funding model is not working for Auckland and it’s time that council worked with central government to fix it.”

The first step, he said, would be to work with Auckland councillors to come up with a plan to fill the $900,000 gap in the trust’s finances.

Brown’s doing the right thing here. He’s basically saying the Board is making decisions that defy common sense, and they should be abolished. Until such time the directly will step in and restore funding to the Helicopter Trust.

 

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31 Responses to “A win for the Helicopter Trust”

  1. tvb (4,210 comments) says:

    They could start by firing a few trustees starting with the Chair. People’s lives are less important that a few snobby Arts lovers who cannot make their entertainment pay.

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  2. All_on_Red (1,394 comments) says:

    Notice his solution is not to reallocate funding but increase it. Can’t upset the luvvies can we.

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  3. WineOh (557 comments) says:

    Wouldn’t the solution be having a chat with the board and politely suggest that they re-allocate their funding inline with what Auckland ratepayers want… rather than busting the funding board and spending a bunch of cash to restructure and set up a new alternative?

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  4. lazza (358 comments) says:

    Careful of what you wish for.

    There is a principle here, worth pondering.

    The consequences are: Staff capture … political string-pulling … cozy expenditure/grant preferences of unelected officials … will prevail.

    Far better to get the Board governance right like …

    Independent input and supervison with accountability-reporting …

    Along with an uncorrupted election of Board member process.

    Get it?,

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  5. Fentex (868 comments) says:

    His argument as I read it reported was thus; The board was constituted to allocate funds on behalf of many regional Auckland bodies that no longer exist – before their amalgamation into the Auckland super-city it was a way of organising the distribution of central funds without unnecessary debate and delay.

    With Auckland amalgamated that is no longer necessary and it has become a pointless bureaucracy.

    In addition to what sounds perfectly sensible is the boards behaviour in reducing the helicopter trusts funding in favour of arts such as Opera that wins public support because really if the public has to choose where gifts of funding of their monies go are they going to choose life saving emergency services or commercial but under subscribed arts?

    No one would have noticed this boards pointless existence if it wasn’t making absurd decisions.

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  6. notrotsky (62 comments) says:

    Brown will annex the funds or stack some new board with his own personal cronies and creeps. Auckland super city council is a cesspit of graft, nepotism, toughing and downright waste.

    Ever since its inception my rates have climbed drastically, including increased user charges at the council owned gyms and pools and rubbish collection while services have declined it’s a complete fucking shambles and the unitary plan if it goes through will root the region for the next couple of generations.

    LBIAFC !

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  7. lazza (358 comments) says:

    I meant to say … Abolish the Board!!! and … then Careful of what you wish for.

    There is a principle here, worth pondering.

    The consequences are: Staff capture … political string-pulling … cozy expenditure/grant preferences of unelected officials … will prevail.

    Far better to get the Board governance right like …

    Independent input and supervison with accountability-reporting …

    Along with an uncorrupted election of Board member process.

    Get it?,

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  8. tedbear (127 comments) says:

    “Brown’s doing the right thing here”

    What utter crap.
    While any rescue service is great and important, it is not a service to homeowners properties, therefore does not come under the umbrella of rates.

    So the RIGHT THING for Brown to say is, this is not my problem.

    To anyone who disagrees with my summation, then obviously you have no problem when your rates demands go through the roof as they most certainly will unless this crap ceases.

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  9. Barnsley Bill (978 comments) says:

    Don’t be fooled by Brown and his sudden urge to do something. His spinweasels will have sniffed the air and decided that this is an opportunity for him to try and look slightly less like a twat. Remember this is a Labour initiated scandal and he is a Labour mayor.

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  10. gump (1,491 comments) says:

    The Board’s argument is that the ARHT has been successful at raising funds from other sources.

    Has it been established that the ARHT actually needs the funding that is being withdrawn? They’re preparing to spend hundreds of thousands on legal fees – so they can’t be described as poor.

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  11. peterwn (3,168 comments) says:

    See the Act:
    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/private/2008/0003/latest/DLM1140001.html?src=qs

    The Auckland Council appoints 6 members and the associated amenities board 4 members. The amenities are roughly grouped as:
    Arts – 4
    Museums, etc – 2
    Rescue and safety – 4

    Assuming the museums (observatory and maritime museum) side with the ‘arts’ then the ‘amenities’ members are likely to be pro arts.
    The Board members have a duty to treat all the 10 ‘amenities’ funded in an impartial way – if they do not they are a sitting duck for an adverse court ruling. They must be too pig headed to realise this. They should seek impartial advice from a QC on the likely outcome of any litigation – there will be some who will do it free as a community service.

    The Mayor and Council have it within their power to replace 6 members with those who undertake to give ‘rescue and safety’ a fair go.

    The threat of litigation seems to be focusing the Mayor quite nicely.

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  12. campit (466 comments) says:

    What is the argument for the Auckland Rescue Helicopter, or rescue services around the country, being funded by ratepayers at all? Aren’t the provision of health services a central government function? Shouldn’t insurance companies be contributing something when their policy holders are saved?

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  13. lastmanstanding (1,210 comments) says:

    lazza is sooooooo right. This Board is yet another example of the low standards of governance we have in this country. Huge conflicts of interest and self interest. No accountability to the people who pay the money these clowns dish out.

    The fact is at all levels in all sectors in New Zealand we see a failure l to follow established and accepted principles of good governance.

    Like Disclosure for a start. Too often we hear about so called ‘commercial sensitivities” which is code for’ We cant justify the reasons for the decisions we have made so are going to hide behind grannys skirts in the form of commercial sensitivities .

    Same goes for Transparency. Same old excuses trotted out to try and defend the indefensible.

    Time we called these Bozos and the rest of them out and demanded they explain themselves to the people who pay the money.

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  14. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    Brown is disenfranchising Aucklanders to set up auckland for Chinese wealthy.

    Perfectly within J Keys projections

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  15. big bruv (13,331 comments) says:

    A reasonable point Campit.

    So, equally there is a good argument that the Arts should not receive one cent of public funding, nothing from local government and nothing from central government.

    If the arts community feel that their hobby needs funding then they can get off their collective backsides and raise the money themselves.

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  16. campit (466 comments) says:

    Otago regional council only donated $412,500 for their rescue helicopter.

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/273814/rescue-trust-needs-1m

    Why should Auckland have to donate more than this?

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  17. RightNow (6,679 comments) says:

    “Why should Auckland have to donate more than this?”

    No-one should have to donate, but on a per capita basis it would make sense that Auckland would need more resources. Auckland has 7x the population of Otago.

    My question really is, who benefits from the funding of the arts? It’s not feeding the poor hungry kids with no shoes is it? But you go to a play or symphony and see the sea of old luvvies wearing their nice red jackets, enjoying their subsidised cultural outings.

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  18. RRM (9,478 comments) says:

    So, equally there is a good argument that the Arts should not receive one cent of public funding, nothing from local government and nothing from central government.

    If the arts community feel that their hobby needs funding then they can get off their collective backsides and raise the money themselves.

    How much did Akl ratepayers put into refurbishing Eden Park so that the rugger industry could have a nice new stage for their hobby money-making tv event?

    It was about $40 million wasn’t it?

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  19. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,799 comments) says:

    Campit

    Maybe Auckland has a bigger chopper?

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  20. Lance (2,461 comments) says:

    @campit
    Because Auckland grows by more than the entire population of Otago annually.

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  21. campit (466 comments) says:

    @Lance – true. Hadn’t realised the Auckland Trust runs two helicopters. Perhaps Westpac should pay twice as much as they do for the naming rights?

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  22. Lance (2,461 comments) says:

    @campit
    As an ex-Southlander now Aucklander, the folks down there just don’t get how friggin big the place is up here and how quickly it is growing.
    The entire West Auckland Area (over 300,000 people) has 1/2 a hospital. By way of an example over funding, I had Appendicitis, turned up at Waitakere A+E and had to be driven by Ambulance to the North Shore as there are no abdominal facilities there.
    There are many more examples so it is a bit hard to take when people moan about how “Auckland gets everything”.

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  23. calendar girl (1,177 comments) says:

    Let’s just call it the “Len Brown Rehabilitation Helicopter”.

    Barnsley Bill is right – this is all about Len Brown and what he thinks will make him look good. A saviour for the Rescue Helicopter. But Len Brown is not being particularly frank: “The first step, he said, would be to work with Auckland councillors to come up with a plan to fill the $900,000 gap in the trust’s finances.”

    That simply means grabbing an extra $900,000 of ratepayer money for such handouts, most of which have nothing to do with the core functions required of a properly-run Auckland Council. Put it on the burgeoning debt tab, Mr Mayor. It won’t make much difference to $1 million a day.

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  24. trout (904 comments) says:

    Seems that more than a few have been sucked in by the Hooton PR machine (with Whaleoil’s help I must say – I guess his enthusiasm may have something to do with his aversion to publicly funded arts activities). And Len jumps on the bandwagon because it is a ‘worthy’ cause (any cause will do if it lifts his profile out of the gutter). How about somebody asking if the Trust really needs the money or is this part of empire building. They receive substantial income for their work from ACC, Police (for S&R), and St. Johns. The have 2 helicopters; one of which is little used, and $13 million dollars in the Bank. This is just another subsidy for an outfit that could probably be more efficiently operated privately. But stack the trust with celebs, cry poor, and plead that lives will be lost, and the money is meant to roll in.

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  25. gump (1,491 comments) says:

    @trout

    I’m still waiting for somebody to demonstrate that the ARHT actually needs the money.

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  26. AG (1,784 comments) says:

    Brown’s doing the right thing here. He’s basically saying the Board is making decisions that defy common sense, and they should be abolished.

    In which case, perhaps your “strong view that [the Board's funding] is effectively a donation, and that the recipients of a donation should not go to court to try and force a higher level of donation” was … wrong?

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/02/how_can_you_sue_to_demand_a_higher_donation.html

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  27. peterwn (3,168 comments) says:

    campit – re rescue helicopters. In the past there was no helicopter service and in the dim distant past there was no decent ambulance service. For example in the early 1900′s there were two ambulances in Wellington – one operated by the hospital and the other by the Harbour Board – for wharf and ship related accidents etc. The Harbour Board Chairman (a Mr Norwood) came across an accident and was told it would be ages before the hospital ambulance could attend. He then ordered out the Harbour Board ambulance to take the injured to hospital. He realised that Wellington needed a decent ambulance service, and donated and raised money to set up the Wellington Free Ambulance which still operates as such today. It seemed that St Johns similarly stepped in to operate a universal ambulance service, but with a very strong expectation that users would meet the cost.

    With respect to helicopter rescue services – before they were established, helicopter transfers just were not immediately available as an option. Police could probably requisition a RNZAF helicopter in exceptional circumstances, but that takes time and red tape. Hence, some motor accident victims could not be got to a decent hospital within the ‘golden hour’ – that is if serious treatment can be commenced within one hour, the patient is more likely to survive and make a good recovery.

    This would have been the impetus to helicopter rescue services and like ambulances are run as non-government charities. It is probably better that way – bearing in mind that Wellington Hospital could not provide a decent ambulance service all there years ago.

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  28. jcuk (586 comments) says:

    Gump … I read somewhere that the ARHT needs a new bird …. or was that OtagoRHT?

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  29. OneTrack (2,624 comments) says:

    gump – I’m still waiting for somebody to demonstrate that the “arts” actually needs the money too. Why does Len think my rates should pay for his mates hobbies? As somebody said above, he isnt actually talking about restraining any spending – this is all just a public relations exercise.

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  30. tedbear (127 comments) says:

    Aww have I hit a raw nerve up in jafaland?

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  31. tedbear (127 comments) says:

    Allow this kind of crap to continue at your peril.
    Allow Auckland to grow as big as New York and you might be living by NYC rules whereby your beloved mayor demands you Jafas pay for all the trains plus your own police force plus whatever.
    Another helicopter or four will be a walk in the park.

    Fact or fiction?

    I’ll watch the fun from down south.

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