Snowy Hydro CEO Paul Broad said that it “breaks our heart” to have their partnership with the SouthCare Helicopter broken off.
The company had naming rights sponsorship of the rescue helicopter, affectionately nicknamed ‘Charlie,’ for over 18 years, until the government took it over as of March 31 this year.
However, Mr Broad said that since then they had been investigating other ways Snowy Hydro could make a similar investment in the local community.
“We won’t walk away from our community engagement; there’s obviously a lot of little things around but we’d love to do something of that scale again,” he said.
“Here at Snowy we have some ideas about what we might be doing but I don’t want to say too much just yet! We still need to finalise the negotiations with various parties.
“I think we might have used [Charlie] once to benefit us directly but it was mainly a huge asset to the community, so something that has that huge benefit for everybody is something we look for.”
Mr Broad said that they intend to use the SouthCare money locally, but they wouldn’t be taking proposals from local groups due to scale.
“What happens is that you get 5000 of them and that doesn’t work for us – not because we think there aren’t good small things in the communities but because we think we’re big enough and ugly enough to do big things that benefit everybody, and it’s very hard to achieve that if you give $2000 here and $5000 there, and it starts spiralling out of control,” he said.
“We obviously do a lot of other things [besides SouthCare], so none of that will change, and our connection to communities is really vital to us.”
Mr Broad also said he wanted to recognise the fundraising efforts of local groups that assisted them in funding the SouthCare helicopter, before they move on to other projects.
“We firstly want to reach out and thank the people of Tumut and surrounding areas for their wonderful support of us and SouthCare,” he said.
“I can remember being over there many times receiving checks from Trina [Thomson, former Mayor] and others on behalf of the community, so I’m sure the community up there will be a little bit put out, as we are, that they’ve gone in another direction, as they say. “The new chopper itself will be very good and I don’t think there’s any risk that the standard of service will change – I certainly hope not!”
The SouthCare rescue helicopter is now being funded by the ACT and NSW governments.