News Australasia

Wednesday 24 April 2019

TV host criticised for mocking New Zealand PM's accent during moving speech about Christchurch

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: Kyodo News via AP
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: Kyodo News via AP

Colin Drury

An Australian TV host has been criticised after he mocked New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern moments after she had given a speech about the Christchurch terror attacks.

In a bizarre tweet posted in response to her vow to never say the name of Brenton Tarrant, the man accused of killing 50 people at two mosques on Friday, Sam Newman ridiculed Ms Adern's accent.

“Thank heavens NZ prime minister said she will never mention the name of the terrorist,” the 73-year-old wrote. “How grating is her accent?”

The former Aussie rules football player's comment was subjected to an almost immediate online backlash.

Her dialect, noted one responder, was “significantly better than any of the wind that comes out of your regressive racist sexist neck, Sam".

More than 1,800 people had replied by the time of publication with the vast majority criticising Mr Newman, who was an original host on popular sports programme The Footy Show.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as she leaves Friday prayers (Vincent Thian/AP)
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as she leaves Friday prayers (Vincent Thian/AP)

“She's got more class that you could ever try and buy you pathetic horrible has-been," said one in a post which the man himself might have described as pulling no punches.

Others pointed out how Ms Ardern had received almost universal praise for her decisive and empathetic handling of the terror attacks.

“She has articulated our grief, our sympathy, our shock, our anger and our determination to change our lax gun laws,” one New Zealander wrote. “She speaks for us, and like us.”

Yet, in a second bizarre message, the former Geelong FC player, who was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2002, doubled down on his comments.

“To be clear, this had nothing to do with her sentiments,” he wrote. “It DID have to do with the ghastly accent NZ’s have cultivated. Now, bang on about that being racist. That should occupy your tiny brains.”

It is not the first time Mr Newman has caused controversy.

Last year he sparked outrage when he said Australia's Muslim community "share no common interest" with the rest of the country.

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