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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Mines and Energy
    The Honourable Geoff Wilson

    ENERGEX boosts sponsorship to rescue helicopter service

    Minister for Mines and Energy
    The Honourable Geoff Wilson

    Friday, January 12, 2007

    ENERGEX boosts sponsorship to rescue helicopter service

    Residents and visitors to the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay areas will be the big winners from today’s announcement that leading electricity company ENERGEX will renew and upgrade its multi-million dollar sponsorship of the regions’ community rescue helicopter service.

    Minister for Mines and Energy Geoff Wilson made the announcement today along with Sunshine Coast Helicopter Rescue Service Chairman Don Moffatt and ENERGEX Chief Executive Officer Terry Effeney.

    Mr Wilson said today’s announcement marked both the continuation of a highly successful association of the past and a great step into the future.

    “Following the State Government’s decision to deregulate the retail electricity market in Queensland, the current process where people can voluntarily contribute to the ENERGEX rescue chopper through their power bills will effectively end on June 30,” said Mr Wilson.

    “During the next few months though, ENERGEX and the rescue chopper service will detail how residents and businesses can continue to contribute to the service.

    “There has been some concern expressed about the financial support to this vital helicopter rescue service.

    “I am delighted that today’s announcement will end those concerns and at the same time actually boost the financial support by ENERGEX to the service.

    “ENERGEX has been associated with the Sunshine Coast and Bundaberg-based rescue chopper services since 1994 with combined customer and corporate funding of more than $8 million assisting operations.

    “The Queensland Government is delighted that this association will continue into the future with a new agreement between the two organisations,” he said.

    Today’s deal is part of a record commitment to the Sunshine Coast by ENERGEX, which included last month’s announcement of the region’s largest ever electricity infrastructure project, and news that the company plans to spend approximately $150 million on the Sunshine Coast in the next few years.

    Rescue Helicopter Service Chief Executive Officer Rob Walford said the funding agreement being announced today was a significant boost for the entire Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay region and would greatly assist planning for the future as the organisation continued to grow.

    "We are extremely grateful to ENERGEX for its ongoing support. Just as it has in the past, this funding will assist us to maintain and improve our rescue operations,” said Mr Walford.

    “It will also give us some additional confidence to move into a more capable helicopter that will better provide for the future rescue needs of the community.

    “This support of ENERGEX and that provided by all levels of government and other sections of the community has been vital, but I would especially like to thank the individual donors who have provided on-going support through their ENERGEX electricity accounts over the years.

    “While the current process with electricity accounts will end later this year, we will still be relying on individual donors and community support as well as direct corporate support being announced today by ENERGEX.”

    Since the SCHRS began in 1979, crews have carried out more than 14,000 tasks including many lifesaving medical emergencies, patient transfers and search and rescue operations. Staff numbers have grown from one pilot plus admin support and volunteer lifesaver crew in 1979 to 16 full-time staff and 12 volunteer crew members, with the organisation set to expand further to meet the increasing demand.

    Mr Effeney said the rescue helicopters bearing the ENERGEX signage were among the best known in south east Queensland and performed a wide range of services supporting the fastest growing areas of Australia.

    “ENERGEX is delighted that the community rescue chopper service has continued to thrive and grow just as the community around it has,” he said.

    “We hope that this multi-million dollar agreement for the next three years, with two one year options, will see an even greater association between the two groups.”

    Mr Effeney said customer contributions collected through electricity accounts would continue to be passed on to the chopper service until June 30 and during the next few months ENERGEX and the rescue chopper service will detail how residents and businesses can continue to contribute to the service.

    “ENERGEX knows that every second counts in life threatening situations – and we also know that every cent counts for volunteer community services,” he said.

    “ENERGEX is therefore proud to renew and upgrade our support for the community rescue helicopter service.”

    For media inquiries:

    Minister’s Office - Brooke Johnson (07) 3224 7332 or 0439 783 443

    Energex - Office Hours (07) 3407 4420 or After Hours (07) 3407 5191