3 Sep 2015

Williamson admits overstepping mark, apologises

9:10 pm on 3 September 2015

National MP Maurice Williamson has admitted he "overstepped the line" and caused offence at a conference dinner in Auckland last week.

Maurice Williamson talks to reporters outside his electorate office in Auckland.

Maurice Williamson (file photograph) Photo: RNZ

Television New Zealand has reported the backbencher MC'd the Esri Users dinner. Many people said that his jokes at the event made them feel uncomfortable.

Susan Jones, an Auckland IT consultant who was at the dinner, said she was gobsmacked by Mr Williamson's presentation, which included pictures of scantily clad women and a sexually explicit radio ad.

Ms Jones said an email from event organiser Eagle Technology to attendees, which also conveyed Mr Williamson's apologies, smacked of damage control.

Eagle Technology said in the email it was "not aware of the content that was to unfold".

Mr Williamson today released a statement saying he had been asked to be as "entertaining and as funny as I possibly could".

"It was never my intention to upset any delegates. I overstepped the line on the night and did cause offence," he said.

"For that I unreservedly apologise."

Prime Minister John Key said his office had spoken to Mr Williamson, who was not at the event in his capacity as an MP.

He said while that may have been the case, it did not absolve him of what he may have said or done.

"I suspect he's had a chance to reflect on it and probably acknowledged that he overstepped the mark, I think he'll reflect on it and hopefully we wouldn't see a repeat of that," Mr Key said.

"I don't know the exact things he said, I'm simply speculating, but it's clearly over the line."

Mr Key was asked whether Mr Williamson would be disciplined further.

"Well, he's a backbench MP, who went there not in his capacity as an MP, so you know, I think he'll reflect on it."

But the Labour Party's spokesperson for women, Sue Moroney, said Mr Key should send a stronger message that such behaviour was unacceptable.

"We had the prime minister offering excuses for Maurice's behaviour, saying that everyone just knows that he's a flamboyant MP.

"The New Zealand public have a right to expect decent behaviour from their elected representatives and Maurice really let them down on this occasion."