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Brownlee - brain fade or abuse of power?

Last updated 05:00 29/07/2014
Gerry Brownlee
Fairfax NZ
GERRY BROWNLEE: 'Running late for a plane is not an excuse for bypassing a security check'.

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Christchurch residents are not pleased by Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee's decision to skip airport security to catch a plane to Wellington.

Brownlee says he is annoyed he opened himself to accusations of special treatment when he and two of his staff were given a fast-track flight to Wellington on Thursday.

"I've never, ever liked that preferment stuff. It's aggravating and it's personally disappointing to be viewed in that sort of light", he said.

Brownlee offered his resignation to Prime Minister John Key, who refused it.

Anneliese Lumley, of Riccarton, said Brownlee "knew what he was doing, but I suppose if you feel like you have that sort of power, then you can abuse it. So, he obviously feels like he's above the rest of us". Lumley did not believe Brownlee asking to be exempted from the usual security checks was a dismissable offence.

The need for a resignation would depend on "how good or how s. . . he's doing, really".

"If he's continuously stuffing up, not helping, or not really doing anything great in his electorate then he should go. I mean, he hasn't helped us much with the earthquakes."

John Hawtin, of Bryndwr, said: "What's an extra five minutes (at the airport?) I reckon he should have stood back and thought about it, because if other people did it, they'd get lumbered with it. I disagree with what he did, fully."

Key should have accepted Brownlee's resignation, he said.

"He asked that joker if it was alright to go through that door. If I'd done that I'd be thrown in the cellars."

Chris Kitson, who works in the Ilam area, said: ‘He handled his error properly, but he made an error. You can't have rules for some people and not for others. It wouldn't have been appropriate (to resign), but the worst part of the whole thing, really, was that he took two staff members through who weren't as recognisable as himself."

Ilam resident Faust Bovenlander said Brownlee was "over-zealous in offering to resign".

"He knows that if it gets in the public media [then] that's going to put him in a bad light, it's going to be really blown out of proportion. So, he's ultra eager to say that he's whiter than white.

"It's a bit silly, in and of itself and I don't know the extent that he actually, consciously, went to do something that he knew wasn't right."

Brownlee's offer to resign was "very much playing the game, because he was never, ever going to be dismissed by Key so close to an election, Bovenlander said.

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