INDEPENDENT NEWS

Shipley should investigate Williamson complaint

Published: Tue 27 Jul 1999 04:58 PM
Labour state services spokesperson Trevor Mallard said Prime Minister Jenny Shipley should investigate a serious complaint against the behaviour of Transport Minister Maurice Williamson while he was on recent Government business overseas.
A Hamilton businessman wrote a letter to Labour outlining Mr Williamson's behaviour in London following an emergency at Heathrow Airport.
Trevor Mallard tabled a copy of the letter in Parliament today. (see attachement)
"Mr Williamson's behaviour, as outlined in this letter, is clearly unacceptable," Trevor Mallard said.
"He let down all New Zealanders and in particular all politicians and the political process.
"While the Prime Minister was not in Parliament this afternoon to explain whether or not she finds this type of behaviour acceptable, I think she should take the complaint seriously," Trevor Mallard said.
TEXT OF LETTER FOLLOWS
Mrs Annette King
Member for Rongatai
Parliament House, Wellington
Tuesday, 1 June 1999
Dear Ms King
Deplorable Behaviour of Maurice Williamson
I wish to complain of the deplorable and embarrassing behaviour of Maurice Williamson, the
Minister for Transport, during the Heathrow Airport upheaval on Friday May 29th.
Due to a major fire in an electrical substation at Heathrow Airport, after three hours of
waiting in the dark, our NZ flight was cancelled and all passengers were bussed to hotels. I
was among the business, first class and Koru passengers bussed to the Radisson Edwardian.
All afternoon, during the blackout, Air NZ ground staff were superb. The demeanour of the
passengers was convivial, no doubt helped by the humour and care of the staff. During the
afternoon and bussing we were looked after by two Air NZ staff, Gillian and Christina.
At the hotel we were shocked, particularly the NZ passengers, to hear Mr Williamson
publicly deride Gillian and Christina for not having "immediate contingency plans" and, as a
"Minister of the Crown" he and his entourage, "...should not have had to queue with for their
hotel room and should have been met separately at the hotel".
Most of us got to bed at 11.30pm, but Gillian and Christina not only stayed up till 3am to
ensure everything was OK, but were up again at 5am to get us on our 7am bus. Their
courteousness, humour and dress were first class. Many of us apologised to them on behalf of New Zealanders for Mr Williamson's behaviour.
Mr Williamson was neither "Right" nor "Honourable" in his behaviour. No other passengers
complained. Of all the passengers, he was the poorest ambassador for NZ.
Yours sincerely,
Terry Grimmond
Managing Director

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