Rodney Hide: A dishonourable mention

Gerry Brownlee. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Gerry Brownlee. Photo / Jason Oxenham

New information shows Gerry Brownlee's explanations for his 2014 "airport incident" were - to borrow Prime Minister John Key's word - "suboptimal".

Brownlee's excuse for his behaviour, as lame as it was, was not accurate.

His excuse-making dragged his staff into backing his fake story, falsely dobbed in airport security and put the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the tough spot of contradicting their own Minister.

The Honourable Minister's behaviour was less than honourable.

The new information came to light through the Ombudsman's ordering the Civil Aviation Authority to release previously withheld sections of its report into the incident. To recap, Brownlee - along with two staffers - dodged airport security by having a security staff member open the exit-only door at the Koru Club.

Brownlee explained at the time: "My words were: 'We're in a hurry to get on the plane. Can we shoot through here?' In the end he let us through, but it was all my fault, no one else's."

It was certainly Brownlee's fault but we now know the CAA found their Minister's version of events to be not true. Brownlee was in no such hurry.

Indeed, on gaining access to the secure area he promptly sped not to his plane but to the tuck shop.

There was no great rush. And no great queue. At the time security staff were clearing passengers within two minutes.

And so, too, for his claim that security had reluctantly let him through.

Security opened the door only to explain to Brownlee he could not enter and would have to proceed to the security screening area. There was no invitation, reluctant or otherwise.

Brownlee and his staffers simply barged through.

The staff member looked on "dumbfounded", no doubt reluctant to drop his minister to the ground.

Gate-gate is a small incident in the scheme of things but a great insight into the minister's character.

To my mind, this shows a man ready to make up a story to excuse his bad behaviour and to risk the jobs of others to save his own.

- NZ Herald

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Rodney Hide

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