Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton apologized for mistakenly sending an offensive text message to a journalist.
Political reporter Samantha Maiden, who was called a “mad f****** witch” in a text message sent by Dutton, said the message was for ex-minister Jamie Briggs. BBC News reports her saying that Dutton had apologized for the message.
In a statement, Dutton said, “Sam and I have exchanged some robust language over the years, so we had a laugh after this and I apologised to her straight away which she took in good faith. I’m expecting a tough time in her next column!”
Maiden said that Dutton should not be asked to step down for the mistake. According to abc.net.au, she said that she was not offended by the message, nor did she treat it as sexist. “Certainly, he did call me a mad witch, that much is true. I was more than happy to accept Peter Dutton’s apology. As soon as he sent me that text saying ‘Mate, she’s a bit of a mad witch’ I sent him a text saying ‘Mate, you’ve sent the text to the mad witch.’ Bit of a rookie error.”
Briggs’ resignation came last week after he behaved inappropriately on an overseas trip towards a female colleague of Australia’s Consulate-General in Hong Kong.
Acting Opposition Leader Penny Wong, describing Dutton’s message as inappropriate, called for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to address the controversy. “This isn’t a backbench MP – this is a senior Cabinet Minister,” Wong said. “It’s all very well to talk about increasing the role of women and stronger Ministerial standards – today is the day Malcolm Turnbull must put all that talk into action. This is one of Malcolm Turnbull’s biggest tests so far. He must front the cameras today and explain how this is acceptable behaviour.”
Turnbull’s office said that they would not be issuing a statement regarding the incident, as reported by Sydney Morning Herald. “The first thing I think Australians would want to see is the Prime Minister fronting up. Ducking for cover’s not an option,” Senator Wong said.