Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has transferred Transport Minister Hon Phil Twyford’s responsibilities for the Civil Aviation Authority to Associate Transport Minister Hon Julie Anne Genter.
This announcement followed the Minister’s admission of making a phone call on a domestic flight after the aircraft doors had shut in preparation for take-off.
“I expect all my Ministers to act in accordance with the rules. As Transport Minister it is even more important that Phil abides by civil aviation laws,” said Jacinda Ardern.
“It isn’t appropriate for him to have responsibility for the Civil Aviation Authority in the event that it investigates this incident, so it’s appropriate to transfer those responsibilities to Julie Anne Genter.”
Radio New Zealand reported that Mr Twyford offered his resignation to the Prime Minister after the event occurred on Budget Day last month, but she declined the offer.
“I made a mistake and I clearly wasn’t thinking straight at the time – and I recognise that. It was unacceptable and I apologise unreservedly.”
Twyford said he had made a one minute phone call to one of his staff while on a plane preparing for take off from Wellington airport on 17 May.
The plane’s doors had shut.
“It was a breach of the Civil Aviation rules,” Mr Twyford said. “That’s unacceptable.”
“It’s particularly inappropriate for a Minister of Transport to do that. I clearly at the time thought it was an important matter, but in hindsight it doesn’t excuse or justify breaking the rules.”
Ms Ardern declined his resignation offer, but instead stripped Mr Twyford of his oversight of the Civil Aviation Authority.
On behalf of NZALPA President Tim Robinson, an NZALPA spokesperson told Radio New Zealand that they were disappointed with the Minister but were leaving it to the correct authorities to investigate.
“We would continue to work with Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter who would take over those responsibilities. We have a number of issues at the moment including our call for the prohibition of handheld laser devices and the education and registering of all drone users.”