Tony Abbott was caught laughing at a distasteful joke made by his Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, regarding the rising sea levels that threaten the small island states of the Pacific, and the incident has triggered outrage among many.
As reported by NBC News, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott was discussing the recent Pacific Islands Forum in Papua New Guinea with two of his senior ministers when the joke about the rising seas was made by Dutton. Unaware that there was a live microphone overhead, Abbott was heard laughing after the following comment.
“Time doesn’t mean anything when you’re about to have water lapping at your door,” Dutton joked.
While all eyes are on the launch of the climate conference to be held in Paris later this year, some were shocked that the Australian Immigration Minister had the audacity to joke about rising sea levels in the Pacific. Prime Minister Abbott had actually just arrived from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and attended the meeting with leaders of Pacific Rim countries to discuss the issue of climate change and its impact on countries in the region. At the talk, they were also accompanied by Social Affairs Minister Scott Morrison.
After Abbott was heard laughing, Morrison reminded the two men that the speaker was live by saying,”There’s a boom [microphone] up there.” According to Australia’s ABC.net, the Immigration Minister later refused to answer questions about the incident.
“I had a private conversation with the Prime Minister,” Dutton said.
The inappropriate joke made by Dutton on the rising waters threatening small island states of the Pacific has boosted the opposition. According to Huffington Post U.K., in reaction to Dutton’s remarks and Abbott’s response, Koreti Tiumalu, Pacific coordinator of environmental group 350.org, issued the following statement.
“We request that minister Dutton resigns and that Tony Abbott issues an official apology to all Pacific islanders. We also hope that Australia will offer proper support for and recognition of the impacts that your climate inaction is having upon our culture and our livelihoods.”
The inappropriate joke also sparked opposition leader Bill Shorten to speak out.
“It was a bad joke by a minister who is a bad joke,” Shorten said.
[Image courtesy of Stefan Postles/Getty Images News]