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Petition to make surf lifesaving an emergency service

A petition to make surf lifesaving a funded emergency service has been launched by Helensville MP Chris Penk.

The initiative came from local surf lifesaving clubs, which currently rely on sporting and community grants, fundraising efforts and private sponsorship, Mr Penk said.

"At the moment, the grant structure and the private fundraising and the 'bucket rattling' doesn't allow for a lot of planning into the future, so that makes it difficult to put together budgets and look ahead for what's needed in years to come."

Surf lifesaving was "a vital service" provided by thousands of volunteers, he said.

"This summer, I am calling on the government to recognise surf lifesaving as an essential emergency service and allocate funding directly, to ensure our clubs remain active and sustainable into the future."

He was not advocating "professionalising" surf lifesaving, he said.

"I've got no appetite to interfere in what clubs do well... they just need some funding to allow them to get on with the job."

It was possible surf lifesaving could come under Internal Affairs, like fire and emergency services, he suggested.

However, the proposal drew criticism from Social Credit leader Chris Leitch, who accused the National Party of "hypocrisy".

"National had nine years in government during which it could have done exactly what the petition is calling for, but it didn't," he said.

"Instead it was the biggest slasher of funding ever, to numerous organisations that provided much needed community services."

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