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December 6, 2023

The ‘terrordoodler’ ejected from Tigerair speaks out

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The offending 'terror doodle' that caused Tigerair passenger Oliver Buckworth to be ejected from his flight to Gold Coast airport last week.
The offending ‘terror doodle’ that caused Tigerair passenger Oliver Buckworth to be ejected from his flight to Gold Coast airport last week.

Hans Lovejoy

The man booted off a Tigerair flight from Melbourne to the Gold Coast last Saturday for doodling the word ‘Terrorismadeup’ on his notepad has told The Echo of his experiences.

Oliver Buckworth made headlines last week after the passenger next him complained of his drawings which also depicted the word ‘Terrorismadeup’.

The former Byron Shire resident works as an interior designer in Melbourne after he helped to redesign the interior for La La Land nightclub. ‘The owner liked my work so much that he asked me to come to Melbourne to help renovate his other bars in Melbourne,’ he said.

But after doodling on a notepad while waiting for take-off, he says the passenger next to him became alarmed and informed the flight attendant. ‘I overheard him say to the attendant “look at what he’s writing.” When I heard that, I offered to show him the picture but he didn’t seem interested. He didn’t want to look, he seemed frightened. I even said to the man, “I’ll do some happy drawings if that would make you feel better.”’

Mr Buckworth described the man who complained as ‘an Average Joe father in 40–50s, standard Aussie, clean haircut and neat appearance.’

The incident comes amid the Abbott government’s decision to raise the national threat level as well as last week’s largest anti-terrorism operation, which targeted alleged Islamic fundamentalist terrorists linked to the Islamic State movement. Additionally there are new terror powers that are to be tabled in parliament this week by Attorney-General George Brandis.

Mr Buckworth, who is of caucasian English heritage, says ‘I don’t watch TV. I thought that the man looked like he must watch a lot of TV. If you don’t watch TV, you separate yourself from everyone else. There’s only ten channels, but I am getting influenced from all sorts of different places… I am miles away from that. Being forced together on a plane will result in interaction issues.

He says reporting by The Age and the Daily Mail missed the bigger point. ‘I was treated with utter disdain on the plane,’ he said. ‘The flight attendant didn’t look at the notebook. There were no discussions, despite trying to explain myself.’

Mr Buckworth said that his appearance may have played a factor. ‘I had been building – my hands were blackened and stained, my boots are scuffed and my hair is long. It was probably foreign to him.’

After being ejected, he says the police didn’t search his bag or look at his notebook. ‘I asked what is the protocol – I gave them everything so I could get back on the plane. They asked very few questions. Eventually they said, “You are free to go,” but I said I wanted to sort this out. They said, “No you don’t get anything.” Where’s the proof of this? I am just left here, without my flight and without a refund.’ He says he spent four hours trying to get another flight.

No refund: Tigerair

The Echo asked Tigerair if they would refund Mr Buckworth’s expenses but instead they responded, ‘Tigerair has a zero tolerance policy towards inappropriate and anti-social behaviour. Safety and security of staff and passengers underpins the operation at all times and is never compromised. Tigerair has robust safety and security procedures in place to ensure the highest standards at all times. Our staff are well trained and any safety or security incident/breach is investigated individually according to the nature of the incident. As per Tigerair’s conditions of carriage, the airline may refuse passengers to travel for reasons of safety or security and this may include the enforcement of future travel bans.’

Mr Buckworth added, ‘People of Australia have to carry on their lives in a happy and friendly way, otherwise there’s no point for this “protection”. What are we protecting? I don’t want to be afraid and I don’t think anyone should be. You are not going to act cleverly or wisely if you are afraid. I love going surfing but sharks don’t bother me. How can I enjoy surfing if I am petrified of the water?’

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