Moral Panics

Fear of perverts in aircraft


Moral Panics Index


Perverts in Aircraft

News Reports 2 : Dec 1-3 2005

The Press
December 1 2005

Tree-top stage for men's rights
by Helen Murdoch

Double amputee Kevin Gill spent 22 hours on the top of a 10m high tree stump outside Nelson in the name of men's rights.

The Motueka men's advocate took his protest against airline policies -- which ban men from sitting beside children travelling alone -- to the top of a recently felled historic gum outside Richmond on Tuesday evening.

He came down yesterday afternoon, content with the attention he had drawn.

Gill said the airline policy was political correctness gone mad.

"Soon men will be afraid to do anything," he said.

Air New Zealand and Qantas have made no apology for their policies and indicated they were likely to remain in place.

The Human Rights Commission has, however, received four separate complaints in the past 24 hours about the issue and offered Gill the chance to join the process.

The ban will be the subject of a dispute resolution process by the commission.

The policy came to light this week after Auckland father of two Mark Worsley made public an incident a year ago when he was asked to change seats on a domestic Qantas flight because he was sitting beside a boy travelling alone.

Worsley said the incident irked him so much he contacted National Party political correctness eradicator Wayne Mapp.

Gill, a co-ordinator for the New Zealand Father and Child Society, was helped to his eyrie at 5pm on Tuesday.

He said he had decided on the protest "off his own bat" and that he would, "stay here until Air New Zealand change their policy".

Gill said the airlines' policy discriminated against men and inferred men were a risk.

"Next thing we know we will not be allowed to sit beside kids on a bus or at a sports game."

A similar race-based policy would see a huge public outcry, he said.

"Why should men be any different?"

Despite a cold night, a fear of heights and pre-dawn thoughts of giving up his post, Gill lasted most of the day cheered on by a supportive public. However, by 3pm he had returned to ground level after ACT MP Rodney Hide told him he would advocate for men's rights in Parliament.

Air New Zealand corporate communications manager David Jamieson said the carrier made no apology for the policy, which had been in place for many years.

Origin Pacific Airways chief executive, Dallas Hay, of Nelson, said the company's policy was to seat unaccompanied children behind the pilot or next to a flight attendant.

Qantas spokesman Lloyd Quartermaine said the airline's policy was longstanding, consistent with other international airlines and designed to maximise child safety.

Carriers, including Singapore Airlines, Virgin Blue, Cathay Pacific and United Airlines, have similar policies.

Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro has backed the airlines' policy as an endeavour to keep children safe.



Making a point: Kevin Gill stages a lofty protest against airline policy to segregate men and unaccompanied children. Photo: Helen Murdoch