Labour are playing out attacks on John Key for using a helicopter to avoid 3 hour traffic jams. Trevor Mallard is playing it up the most and he is being a bit silly.
Kerre Woodham lambasts Labour for their pettiness and rightly so especially over transport arrangements for the Prime Minister. It was while I was researching my previous post that I came across this:
The trans-Tasman anger was enormous. At one stage, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, on her way back to New Zealand from the Middle East, found her aircraft blockaded on the Melbourne airport tarmac by laid-off Ansett workers, who refused to allow the jet to take off. Eventually, an RNZAF Orion maritime reconnaissance aircraft had to be sent to fetch her.
It shows an appalling hypocrisy from Labour when their own leader summonsed a plane across the Tasman to rescue her from picketing Ansett workers. John Key could have probably made 1000 flights between Auckland and Hamilton before he even came close to the cost of a full crew, presumably a back up crew and an Orion and fuel to save a feckless Prime Minister stuck in a picket at Melbourne airport.
If that wasn’t so bad the news reports show an even worse position for Labour and Helen Clark.
A group of Ansett’s aircraft loaders had turned up at Melbourne airport for the early shift, but when they heard the news, they used heavy moving equipment to blockade an Air New Zealand plane in protest.
They didn’t know it but Helen Clark was supposed to be boarding that plane to fly back to New Zealand from a trip to Europe. Instead she was trapped at Melbourne airport for five hours.
In a day of high farce, Victoria police eventually came to the rescue, airlifting Ms Clark from the airport in a helicopter just before lunch.
Using a police helicopter to save yourself from embarrassment. But wait it gets worse:
Helen Clark was flown out in the end on an [RNZAF] Orion – sent over by Acting Prime Minister Jim Anderton. He said he’d acted as a sovereign state to defend our Prime Minister, and accused the Ansett workers of criminal acts. Ms Clark said she was disturbed by Australian Kiwi bashing which she described as absolutely unreasonable.
I’ll tell you what is unreasonable…exactly what Kerre Woodham describes:
A prime minister going by helicopter to an engagement is probably a better option than being in a speeding motorcade and hanging your driver out to dry when you’re found out – as history would note.
Worse when that same Prime Minister who hung out her staff called upon the air force to save her at huge expense in Melbourne. If you are going to point the finger make very sure that your side is squeaky clean before you do.
UPDATE: Of course there was also this incident when Clark wanted to make it to Grey power meeting:
The Prime Minister commandeered an Air Force plane to whisk her to an appointment with Grey Power in Invercargill yesterday.
High winds closed Wellington airport and like hundreds of others, Helen Clark could not get a commercial flight out. Her office made a phone call to Defence Force headquarters, and she was driven up to Ohakea air base where a seven-seater King Air plane was waiting.
She was flown south to keep her appointment – a speech to Grey Power Southland at the Invercargill Workingmen’s Club.
Arriving an hour-an-a-half late, the Prime Minister was warmly received by the 150-strong crowd who had waited patiently.
Not only commandeering a flight but also a massive drive from Wellington to Ohakea, presumably at great speed. Labour really do look silly now.