Twyford’s big little mistake

More trouble for Phil Twyford, self inflicted.

He was one of Labour’s most active and critical MPs in when in opposition. In Government he was given big and relatively many ministerial responsibilities.

He has struggled with the transition from Opposition, and with his new jobs, particularly the very demanding Housing portfolio in which Labour had been very critical, and made some big promises. As National had discovered as the number of houses kept falling behind a rising population, it can be a very slow behemoth to turn around, especially with our restrictive, time consuming and expensive RMA requirements.

Last week Twyford was reprimanded by the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for referring to ‘kids at Treasury’ when he disagreed with a housing forecast. Ardern put on a show of telling him off but agreed with the thrust of his criticism. Twyford said “Some of these kids at Treasury are fresh out of university and they’re completely disconnected from reality”. Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf says he is “disappointed” with the Housing Minister’s comments that his officials are “kids… disconnected from reality”

Now another controversy has flared, with Twyford being  reported by a member of the public for making a cellphone call on plane after the doors had been closed.

This may seem like a trivial offence breaching what seems like a pointless airline rule.

But it is highly embarrassing for Twyford, because as Minister of Transport he had responsibility for Civil Aviation.

Twyford has admitted his mistake. He also ‘offered to resign’ in a statement:

I recognise that I made the call when I shouldn’t have.

This is inappropriate for anyone, but particularly inappropriate for me as Transport Minister. I apologise unreservedly.

I have apologised to the Prime Minister and offered my resignation as Transport Minister.

She has declined my offer but chosen to transfer my responsibility for the Civil Aviation Authority to Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter.

I have referred the matter to the Civil Aviation Authority who will follow whatever processes they deem appropriate,

So he didn’t actually resign, he left it to Ardern to make a show of declining it, and she also appropriately appropriately stripped him of Civil aviation responsibilities. Regardless of the offence reducing his workload seems like a good idea.

This is being compared to Gerry Brownlee’s breach of security at Christchurch airport in 2014 while he was Transport Minister. he was fined $2,000 for that.

It can be argued that Brownlee’s offence was worse, or potentially not as dangerous (if there is any danger from using phones on planes), but that’s largely irrelevant. This is four years later and Twyford is the current Minister and he has earned some flak.

This will probably blow over fairly quickly except for ongoing attempts to niggle away at the Government by opponents – unless Twyford keeps making mistakes and inappropriate comments. It’s time for him to measure up as a minister, or he could find more of his responsibilities slipping away.

Update: This irony is being reported on RNZ, from July 2014: PM too quick off mark – Labour

Labour transport spokesperson Phil Twyford said John Key had been too quick off the mark in deciding not to accept Mr Brownlee’s resignation and should have waited for the outcome of the CAA investigation.

“The Prime Minister did say that he was going to hold National Party ministers to a higher standard of accountability, so I would have hoped that the prime minister would have waited for the facts to be on the table about what regulations Mr Brownlee might have breached.”

Mr Twyford said it was important Mr Brownlee was held to account, and pointed to the prosecution of John Banks when he was Police Minister for using his cellphone during a flight.

“Well I think it’s very important, for the public, that politicians are seen not just to make the laws but to follow them, as well, and that’s a pretty fundamental principle of our democracy.”




  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  May 25, 2018

    Hardly a mistake – obviously a deliberate act. Probably one he has made a number of times previously before he got outed by Judith.

    • Corky

       /  May 25, 2018

      Labour must fear Judith with a passion.

      • Zedd

         /  May 25, 2018

        I think more Natl MPs/voters fear her…. ‘leadership’

  2. Ray

     /  May 25, 2018

    Considering that every time you get in a plane you receive a lecture on when you can and cannot use your phone there is just no excuse for this.
    As I said yesterday the Labour front bench looks as shallow as a puddle on an airport tarmac.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  May 25, 2018

      I don’t want to find out the hard way that the alleged danger of cellphones on planes is still real until they are a certain height.

      I remember years ago that the planes had phones that passengers could use…I was going to do this until I discovered what the cost per minute was and decided that I didn’t want to phone home that badly.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  May 25, 2018

        Hello, PDT/s. Pathetic, Dreary, Troubled.

  3. Ardern squirming and ducking questions from Guyon Espiner on why it took so long for Twyford to front up on his breach of the rules.

    “Is this a minister who is under pressure?”

    “No, it’s a minister who has made some mistakes.”

    How will Twyford perform when under pressure?

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  May 25, 2018

      Flying to me is much more of an event than it is to him, but he can’t be so blase that he doesn’t notice such obvious things.

  4. Gezza

     /  May 25, 2018

    Twyford unfortunately seems to be something of a juvenile.

    • Ray

       /  May 25, 2018

      Considering just what Twyford called for when Brownlee went through the wrong door at an airport, he obviously has one rule for himself and a definitely harder one for the rest of us peasants.

    • Gezza

       /  May 25, 2018

      Can’t help it unfortunately. Getting quite fond of Big Gerry.

  5. David

     /  May 25, 2018

    Its usually “the cabin door is now closed and all transmitting devices should be switched to flight mode” and then the safety briefing begins so he he was probably yacking through the start of that…big no no. when you are the minister for the CAA and would have made hundreds of flights.
    Bit early for the arrogance of rules dont apply to me dont you know who I am. Glad he hasnt been fired though as I am sure there will be many more stuff ups from this low intelligence Minister, I reckon Megan Woods will be the next one to stuff up she is similar in arrogance and total lack of talent.

  6. Zedd

     /  May 25, 2018

    he must have had a lot on his mind.. 😀

    • Gezza

       /  May 25, 2018

      … and perhaps not a lot of mind to have it on? o_O

    • Gerrit

       /  May 25, 2018

      Yep, probably what will Judith Collins have in store for me next sitting day.

      Nex minute. Oh drat, she is in a seat directly behind me.

  7. “Not only did Phil make a call when the plane was taxiing but he also got up afterwards out of his seat,” Ms Collins told Newshub.

    Twyford:”I have no recollection of that, no recollection at all. “I’m not saying that I didn’t I just honestly can’t remember I have no recollection that I did stand up. It seems to me unlikely”.