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Tong saddened by ‘vulgar joke’

Monday 14 September 2015 | Published in Regional


MAJURO – The president of Kiribati has lashed out at Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, labelling him morally irresponsible for making a “vulgar” joke about rising sea levels in the Pacific.

Anote Tong said Dutton’s joke showed “moral irresponsibility”. Tong warned Australia would have to deal with future refugees if sea levels continue to rise.

Responding more in “sadness” than anger, Tong said Dutton has “got to search his own soul”.

“What kind of a person is he? As long as there is this kind of attitude, this kind of arrogance in any position of leadership, we will continue to have a lot of tension,” he said.

“It shows a sense of moral irresponsibility quite unbecoming of leadership in any capacity,” Tong said when asked about the joke.

“I find that extremely sad, extremely disappointing that we are making jokes about a very serious issue,” he said.

The foreign affairs minister of the Marshall Islands, Tony de Brum, also expressed his dismay over Dutton’s remarks.

“Dismayed Aust ministers joking about sea level rise in Pacific. Seems insensitivity knows no bounds in the big polluting island down sth,” he wrote on Twitter.

Gary Juffa, the governor of Oro province in PNG, also tweeted, saying Mr Abbott “must apologise for insensitivity towards all for laughing at climate change”.