New Zealand Minister Offers to Quit on Charges of Breaching Airport Security

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By Kalyan Kumar | July 24, 2014 5:19 PM EST

An incident involving airport security by Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has put the John Key Government in New Zealand on the defensive, reports NZ Herald.  The minister has offered to quit after being quizzed by the aviation security officials. But the issue has raised concerns on compromises in air security.

REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
An American Airlines airplane takes off from Heathrow airport in London July 3, 2014. Britain has stepped up security at airports after U.S. officials said they were concerned that al Qaeda operatives in Syria and Yemen were developing bombs that could be smuggled onto planes. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: TRANSPORT CRIME LAW TRAVEL)

The incident involved the minister and two of his staff bypassing the security at the Christchurch airport on Wednesday morning.  Brownlee later told reporters that he was sorry and running late for a plane in the morning and took a door normally used for exit to the forecourt, though he had to undergo security check.

The minister said he apologised unreservedly for the action.

Offers to Quit

Brownlee offered to quit after he was quizzed by the Aviation Security. The minister's rationale was that he did not initially consider it as a huge problem.  But after a call from the Aviation Security, he understood the gravity of the matter. Brownlee  ccepted the responsibility for the incident and offered to resign. But the minister denied the charge that he commanded the airport staff member to open the gate, saying rules have changed. The minister admitted it was an error and he regretted that.

PM Declines Resignation

A spokesperson of the Prime Minister John Key said that the resignation offer by Brownlee was not accepted. The prime minister had a word with the minister and indicated his disappointment at the episode. Considering the good work by the minister in his department, it was decided not to accept the resignation. The Aviation Security Service is now investigating the incident.

Green Party Unveils Solar Schools

Meanwhile, in a positive step, the Green Party has launched a Solar in Schools policy. Marking the policy launch at Laingholm Primary School in Auckland, co-leader Dr Russel Norman offered its implementation in 500 schools in three years at a cost of $20 million.

The Greens estimate an annual savings of $1.64 million in power bill by schools, with a cumulative saving of $41 million considering the 25-year lifespan of the solar panels. The total installed capacity of the solar panel will be 7 megawatts, which is equivalent to the capacity of a small power station.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Luke MacGregor / )
An American Airlines airplane takes off from Heathrow airport in London July 3, 2014. Britain has stepped up security at airports after U.S. officials said they were concerned that al Qaeda operatives in Syria and Yemen were developing bombs that could be smuggled onto planes. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor (BRITAIN - Tags: TRANSPORT CRIME LAW TRAVEL)
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