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Brownlee forced to give up Civil Aviation responsibilities during Inquiry into his 'running late for a plane' airport security breach; Gareth Morgan launches water campaign

Brownlee forced to give up Civil Aviation responsibilities during Inquiry into his 'running late for a plane' airport security breach; Gareth Morgan launches water campaign

By Bernard Hickey

With 57 days left until the September 20 election, here's my daily round-up of political news from in and around Wellington on Friday July 25, including news of a Civil Aviation Authority investigation into Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee's airport security breach.

Also, John Key has confirmed that Brownlee will give up his responsibilities for the CAA during the investigation.

Brownlee, who is the Transport Minister and responsible for aviation security, told reporters before Parliamentary question time on Thursday he was running late for a plane and had asked a guard to go through a restricted door and had been waved through.

He said he was to blame for breaching security and did not want the guard to get into trouble. John Key said he was disappointed, but declined the offer.

The tone on both sides of the house was more jovial (see the quote of the day below). Labour MPs chortled along with questions about whether Brownlee really was running. The twittersphere lit up with jokes at Brownlee's expense, including Toby Manhire's gem about Gerry's "Door of National Significance."

This belied the seriousness of the situation, given anyone else breaching airport security would be in serious trouble, not to mention being accused of a 'Don't you know who I am' attitude.

Brownlee was asked by reporters just before question time if he was guilty of arrogance. "I guess that's what you could put on it. All I can say is that I didn't think about it. I made a stupid error and I deeply regret that," he said in reply. Moments later he was making light of it in the house, albeit with Labour acquiescence.

John Armstrong said in its NZ Herald column this morning that Key should have accepted Brownlee's resignation offer, at least from the position of Transport Minister while the CAA Inquiry was being held. Late last night Brownlee gave up responsibility for the CAA for the duration of the inquiry.

Water debate

In news of interest to those following the water quality/dairy conversion debate, Gareth Morgan was on Campbell Live last night launching a campaign to improve water quality in rivers.

The Morgan Foundation's 'My River: leave my river alone' campaign released a 19 page report from 16 scientists on theGovernment's National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management released earlier this month.

I'll keep updating this through the day.

See all my previous election diaries here.

See the index for's special election policy comparison pages here.

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What a position this puts CAA in. Both the security person and the captain of the flight were aware of the breach and did nothing .. their only excuse can be that they considered these government officials to be above the law. Makes a mockery of the law. I think their only choice will be to prosecute. 
And on top of this there is the Jonathan Coleman issue. Another one that should resign.

Brownlee has to be prosecuted, the John Banks Cellphone incident is abosultely clear and unequivical precedent for this. Brownlee actually being prosecuted is another matter. I certainly expect the government are making it clear that they expect the CAA to investigate thouroughly and check all the facts and a result of the invesigation that comes in before the election has clearly not been investigated thouroughly enough. But in reality it should be a fine, like John Banks using his cellphone.
Coleman, yes. All the evidence today (given the statement from Immigration NZ about what they told him when) is that he has deliberately lied to the NZ public about what the governement knew about Kim Dotcom. The thing is if he acknowledges he knew, it becomes increasingly difficult for more senior Ministers in relevant departments to keep saying "I knew nothing". So to keep a lid on it, I think he will keep saying something like "I have no memory of the briefing so no Ministers knew this".

I have had the dubious privilege of sitting in intimate groups in front of a number of Ministers over the last couple of years, Coleman being one. As Associate Minister of Finance he sits in with the handful of people that (arguably) make decisions on behalf of all New Zealanders. I found this a concern as he could not address a fairly simply financial question I put to him. He is a lightweight but I fear he is quite typical of those that currently try to govern us.

This is not Joe Bloggs going in a rear door it is the Minister of Transport.....a very recognisable and well known figure!
Yes he breached the harm was done in him doing so and quite frankly it is better to have the Minister of Transport showing the shortfalls in security than some random person who might pose a threat.
This is actually a good thing to have shows that there is a need to educate staff that everyone.....even though you mght know them or they might be a Minister or perhaps other recognisable public figure that there are procedures to follow at all times.
Now the guard who let Brownlee through won't make this error ever again and neither will any other airport there is a lot of good to come out of this!
There is really know need for a CAA spare the costs of one. Chalk the issue up to experience and education and move on!

This shows the arrogance of the man and reflects the current attitude some have with regards their own self importance.  Exempt from CCA laws, dodgy card spending, private business undertaken on the tax payer..and so on. 
What other laws do you suggest they should be able to ignore...can you provide a list, or do you propose we treat each offence on a case by case basis?  Perhaps speeding should be okay, the oddbit of  drunk driving, maybe some P use, bit of insider trading, perhaps some contracst for your mates (don't mention sky city).
Power corrupts.

What John Armstrong and others seem to repeatedly ignore, which is AGAIN in line with employee vs boss/employer mindset, is that someone like Brownlee having various portfolios is there because they are expect to have significant skills and expertise.


In the higher echelons of Government or any business you can't just terminate a McWorker and stick in another warm body, and have business as usual.


It takes a considerable amount of time to select a suitable replacement (like any business) and to bring them up to speed...but in Parliment you can't just advertise the position on LinkedIn and pick someone. The pool is much smaller and most people should have other areas of expertise. That means everything Brownleee is working on would be frozen until the new minister arrived to shake everything down again with taxpayer money.


In cases where dangerous activity was performed, or lewd misconduct that results in damage to NZ, or corruption/coverup/personal advantage sure. 

But this action was trival - he didn't sneak through, he checked with the manned security representative. The pilot (aka Captain), the one person who is totally responsible for choices about the flight, obviously seemed ok with it. so where is the foul? Who is harmed? Oh bureaucratic NZ, just what heinousness has this person done, that the public need pay the price for his crime?



It was an on-the-spot risk assessment by two consecutive people:  the one at the door, and the captain of the craft.  The latter has absolute discretion over who and what is loaded to said craft.
Risk = low.  
Storm.  Teacup.

...nope.  Its a blatant disregard of the laws of the land.  Organise yourself like the public are expected.  No excuses, politicians should lead by example, set high standards.  These guys lead the public service...they should show how to behave......others will follow.

It reminds me alot of the Helen Clark motorcade speeding incident; The law just plain needs to be the law - no matter what kind of hurry a politician may be in.

With some justice we may see Mr Brownlee added to the US administration's terrorist watch list - Read more

Anti-semitism shows itself in NZ sadly.
That puts the Greens & Mana away from many voting NZers, as well as the Unite union with its links to Labour.