22 Jun 2009

New Zealand MP called on to apologise for offending Tongan Community

4:26 pm on 22 June 2009

New Zealand ACT Party MP, David Garrett, who has apologised for making lewd comments to a parliamentary staffer, is being called on now to apologise to the Tongan community.

An MP in the Opposition Labour Party, Carmel Sepuloni, who is of Tongan descent, says it's deeply disappointing that Mr Garrett seeks to defend his behaviour, by suggesting the comments would be acceptable in a law firm in Tonga but not in the New Zealand Parliament.

She says the comment has angered members of the Tongan community with an apparent suggestion that what may be considered sexual harassment in New Zealand is an acceptable practice in Tonga.

Carmel Sepuloni says the suggestion that women in Tonga would find such behaviour less offensive than women in New Zealand is absolutely inappropriate.

She says choosing to make a gross and racial generalisation about sexual harassment being normal in Tonga to defend his own misconduct is not only unwise but also disrespectful.