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Garrett should apologise to Tongan community

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

Labour List MP Carmel Sepuloni MP is repeating her call for Act MP David Garrett to apologise to the Tongan community for the inappropriate comments he made. Carmel Sepuloni, who is of Tongan descent, called on Mr Garrett to apologise two days ago …

24 June 2009
Media release

Hide must require Garrett to apologise to Tongan community

Labour List MP Carmel Sepuloni MP is repeating her call for Act MP David Garrett to apologise to the Tongan community for the inappropriate comments he made.

Carmel Sepuloni, who is of Tongan descent, called on Mr Garrett to apologise two days ago after he sought to try to defend his behaviour, involving lewd comments about a parliamentary staffer, by suggesting ‘the kind of thing that might have been okay in a law firm in Tonga is not okay in Parliament’.

“Nothing has happened and it’s time Mr Hide forced his MP to do the right thing. It’s disappointing he hasn’t already. TVNZ reported tonight that the Law Society in Tonga is deeply disturbed by the comments and will hold a meeting tomorrow to discuss them so if Act thinks the issue will simply go away, it’s wrong.”

“The comment has angered members of the Tongan community in New Zealand as well and rightly so given he appears to be suggesting that what may be considered sexual harassment here is an acceptable practice in Tonga.

“The Tongan Advisory Council has also taken exception to Mr Garrett’s comments, said Carmel Sepuloni.

“I’ll repeat what I said earlier, which is that the suggestion that women in Tonga would find such behaviour less offensive than women here is absolutely inappropriate.

“Choosing to make a gross and racial generalisation about sexual harassment being normative in Tonga to defend his own misconduct is not only unwise but also disrespectful.

Ms Sepuloni adds: “As the pin-up boy for the ‘Three Strikes and You’re Out’ policy, I do find it ironic that he is so quick to blame his unprofessional conduct on his past experiences – working on oil rigs and time spent in Tonga.

“I’d bet my bottom dollar that he would not accept this kind of defence, if it were an alleged criminal rationalising an offence.”

ENDS

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