26 Jun 2009

ACT MP apologises for comments about Tonga

6:24 am on 26 June 2009

ACT MP David Garrett has apologised unreservedly for comments he made about his behaviour towards women that have caused offence in Tonga.

Mr Garrett, who has a law firm in Tonga, was reprimanded after making a lewd comment to a female member of the ACT Party's parliamentary staff.

In his defence, Mr Garrett said he was on a steep learning curve.

He said he now understood that "the kind of thing that might have been OK in a law firm in Tonga, was not OK in Parliament".

The Tonga Law Society discussed the matter on Thursday and has decided not to take the matter further.

However, it wants to make it clear that unsolicited sexual comments in the workplace are totally unacceptable in Tonga.

Mr Garrett has made a written apology to the society and also expresses his deep regret for making such an offensive comment.

In his letter, Mr Garrett notes he is married to a Tongan national and one of his two children was born there.

He goes on to say he has a deep affection for the kingdom and its people, and returns regularly for business and to visit family.

ACT leader Rodney Hide says Mr Garrett said something regrettable under pressure, and has done the right thing by apologising.