Bulletproof Brownlee

TRACY WATKINS
Last updated 05:00 25/07/2014
Stuff.co.nz

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has offered his resignation after skipping airport security while running late for his flight.

gerry brownlee
CAMERON BURNELL
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee.

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Opinion

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OPINION: Is Prime Minister John Key's refusal to accept Gerry Brownlee's resignation a sign that National thinks it is bulletproof?

Brownlee's blunder in brushing past airport security to board a plane was far more serious than the "silly mistake" that Prime Minister John Key excused him for.

It has exposed serious flaws in our aviation security system in that it allowed three unauthorised passengers to board a plane with no security checks whatsoever.

It has also put the Civil Aviation Authority in the invidious position of having to investigate its own minister - though its carefully worded statement issued late yesterday suggests it has no intention of throwing the book at Brownlee or his two staffers. That is despite their alleged offence carrying a penalty of up to three months in prison or a $2000 fine.

The end of a government's second term is usually about how long it takes to start believing it is bulletproof and for its ministers to develop a sense of entitlement. Brownlee's actions display all the symptoms of a Government suffering second term-itis.

If anyone else had tried to board a plane without going through the aviation security screening process it would have sparked a full-scale alert. Brownlee says he was in a hurry. So are most people these days.

On top of a week where Key already had to fight one brush fire over another of his MPs, Claudette Hauiti, suffering an overblown sense of entitlement in relation to her taxpayer-funded perks, it should have added up to a bad week for National.

But maybe National really is bulletproof. Because even despondent Labour MPs weren't bothering yesterday to claim it as a turning point.

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