Moral Panics

Fear of perverts in aircraft


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Perverts in Aircraft

News Reports 2 : Dec 1-3 2005

The Nelson Mail
December 1 2005

Protester comes down from tree in Richmond

A Motueka man has backed down from a pledge to stay up a tree until airlines review their decision not to allow men to sit next to unaccompanied children.

New Zealand Father and Child Society coordinator Kevin Gill said he could not do anything more to convince Air New Zealand and Qantas to reverse the controversial policy.

Air New Zealand spokesman David Jamieson defended the airline's stance, saying the airline had no intention of reviewing its policy, which had been in place for many years and was in line with international best practice.

Mr Gill abandoned his protest about 2pm Wednesday - less than 24 hours after perching himself on top of a 10m-high Otterson gum tree stump in Queen St, Richmond and vowing not to come down until the policy was changed.

"I'm prepared to stay up here as long as it takes," the double amputee and former ACT party candidate said yesterday morning.

But by yesterday afternoon he conceded, "there's not much else I can do".

"The airlines weren't going to back down and the best way to address the issue was through the Human Rights Commission," he said.

He hoped the matter would be resolved through mediation.

"There has been an awful lot of public opposition, so I can't see it being brushed under the carpet."

Human Rights Commission spokesman Kallon Basham said the commission had received four complaints within 24 hours.

The commission spoke informally with both airlines yesterday and would be making contact with them again in the next week to discuss the matter, he said.

"While I am unable to reveal the details of those complaints, I can confirm that we will be entering into a dispute resolution process," he said.

The policy came to national attention this week when Auckland father-of-two Mark Worsley complained that he was asked to move on a Qantas flight when an unaccompanied child was seated next to him.

The incident, which happened a year ago, irked Mr Worsley so much that he recently contacted National Party's spokesman on political correctness Wayne Mapp.

Dr Mapp said the airlines' policy was an example of political correctness that had got out of hand.