4 Mar 2014

Trust wants judicial review over funding

5:52 pm on 4 March 2014

A trust operating Auckland's rescue helicopters says cuts to its funding are deep and dramatic and it is asking the High Court for a judicial review of how it is funded.

Auckland Rescue Helicopter.

Photo: PHOTO NZ

The Auckland Regional Rescue Helicopter Trust is one of 10 organisations given money by the Auckland Council through the Regional Amenities Funding Board.

The trust says demand for its helicopters has been growing, while its funding has been cut back and wants the court to order the board to recover the money and re-allocate it.

Its lawyer, Matthew Harris, said the rescue helicopter trust and Philharmonia Orchestra used to get $1.5 million each. He said the orchestra is now in line for almost double that, while the trust's amount has been cut to $900,000 and is due to halved.

The rescue service is based entirely on demand - and that demand is rising with the region's population, Mr Harris said.

But the board's lawyer, Tom Weston QC, said the cuts were part of thorough and careful analysis. He said it was an exhaustive process and they were not random decisions.

Mr Weston told the court the helicopter trust is in a healthy financial position and the judicial review application should fail. He told Justice Thomas that the High Court is in no position to make decisions about funding.

Mr Weston said the trust is only giving theoretical possibilities of what the funding drops could do to its operations and had glossed over the fact that its revenue has grown.