SA gets fire chopper

     SA gets fire chopper

26 May 2008

published by www.abc.net.au


A specially-equipped firefighting helicopter is to be based in South Australia during the fire danger season.

The State Government says $16 million will be allocated in the Budget over the next four years to keep a so-called ‘Elvis’ helicopter on standby.

The decision to station one in South Australia is in line with recommendations from the Wangary bushfire coronial inquest.

The firefighting helicopters are only available from interstate at the moment.

Premier Mike Rann says it means they are not always available when there is a big fire in South Australia.

“My big fear is that you know there’ll be bushfires in different states simultaneously and we’ll be caught short,” he said.

“So following the coronial recommendations we’ve decided in this budget to commit $16 million so that we can have Elvis permanently every summer.”

Disappointed

The State Opposition is disappointed that the Government has taken two years to accept that South Australia needs a firefighting helicopter.

The Liberals called for one to be stationed in the state in 2006.

Opposition leader Martin Hamilton-Smith says today’s announcement is a re-announcement.

“I welcome the fact that we’re finally getting the firefighting helicopter, it’s been overdue,” he said.

“But I just say to Mr Rann if you haven’t got anything genuinely new to announce why don’t you come home? There’s problems of all sorts to be dealt with here now.”


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