Report: Gerry’s airport arrogance highlighted once more

Continued obfuscation by CAA means Gerry’s quest for a pie before flying is news again.

Former transport minister Gerry Brownlee bought chewing gum and a can of softdrink in a bookshop after barging through airport security, new information about the 2014 incident at Christchurch Airport shows.

One of his aides also bought food items while the group waited for boarding passes.

The Civil Aviation Authority has released the information after being told to by Ombudsman Leo Donnelly in response to a complaint about parts of the report being withheld.

Parts of investigator Dianne Cooze’s report remain redacted.

The report says there was plenty of time for Brownlee and his aides to board their flight to Wellington on the morning of July 24, 2014, if they had followed usual security protocols.

Brownlee was fined $2000 for the infringement and his aides were issued formal warnings, reflecting what the CAA saw as their limited culpability.

At the time, Brownlee offered his resignation to the Prime Minister. It was rejected. He apologised several times publicly for putting an airport security staff member in a difficult position.

Cooze described the unnamed staff member responsible for monitoring the Koru exit door into the secure area as being almost “dumbfounded” when Brownlee walked past and made a passing comment about being late for his flight, and then proceeded through into a gate lounge.

Brownlee’s presence and conduct, as a senior member of Parliament, would have had the effect of potentially exerting a degree of undue influence, whether intended or not, on this employee, the report said.

Brownlee had taken full responsibility for making the “fateful decision” to turn left and take the short cut resulting in the group unlawfully entering the secure area.

The infringement notice with a $2000 fine would appropriately address Brownlee’s culpability.

His decision placed his aides in a position where they felt compelled to follow his instruction as employees, although both were aware of security rules, and a formal warning letter would adequately address their culpability, she said.

In his opinion, Donnelly upheld the CAA’s right to withhold the explanations from Brownlee and the aides. All had consented to a formal interview under caution and, in these circumstances, it was clear the CAA would hold their statements confidentially, subject only to the possibility they would be disclosed should they be prosecuted in an open court.

He considered disclosure of this information would create “a real risk that future parties, whether suspects or witnesses, would be inhibited from informing the CAA about possible breaches of the Civil Aviation Act out of fear that their statements would not remain confidential”.

Signs have been placed on the Koru exit door and a one-way turnstile installed to act as an additional deterrent.

What does it say? ? No pompous self-important arrogant fat bastard MPs?

On the good side – he’s not done it since.

Though I must admit I am a bit surprised he went for chewing gum and a drink. Had Christchurch airport run out of pies?


– Elspeth McLean,?ODT