Alan Jones back-pedals after comments cause international outrage

Radio personality Alan Jones has back-pedalled over comments he made about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after he suggested Australia’s leader Scott Morrison should “shove a sock down her throat”.

Mr Jones’s “clarification” on the comments he made earlier on Thursday came after widespread condemnation across social media and internationally, with even former Australian leader Malcolm Turnbull and Fijian prime minister Frank Bainimarama taking swipes at the radio host.

Late on Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison added his voice to the growing number speaking out against Mr Jones, calling his remarks about Ms Ardern “way out of line”.

Mr Jones claimed his remarks regarding the New Zealand Prime Minister had suffered from “wilful misinterpretation”.

“Of course what I meant to say was that Scott Morrison should tell Ms Ardern to ‘put a sock in it’,” the 2GB host said in a statement.

Alan Jones prompted an outpouring of condemnation and disgust on Thursday for both his comments about the New Zealand leader and his factually incorrect statements on carbon dioxide emissions. Source: AAP

“There are many people who would relish the opportunity to misinterpret things that I have said as we have seen online this afternoon. Of course I would not wish any harm to Jacinda Ardern.”

He added the point he was trying to make was that she “was wrong about climate change and wrong about Australia’s contribution to carbon dioxide levels”.

That point, which was further elaborated on his Thursday morning radio show, claimed New Zealand’s per capita carbon dioxide emissions had exceeded Australia’s.

“The fact is New Zealand’s carbon dioxide has grown by 10.8 percent per capita since 1990. Ours has grown by 1.8 per cent,” he told his 2GB listeners.

However, according to a Guardian Australia report released in response to Mr Jones’ stance, nearly all the data he cited was “incorrect or misleading”.

“Australia is responsible for about 1.3 percent of global emissions, New Zealand 0.1 percent,” the article said.

Climate Council senior researcher Tim Baxter told The Guardian Mr Jones’s claims were “very misguided”.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is welcomed by children as she arrives for the Pacific Islands Forum in Funafuti, Tuvalu, on Wednesday. Source: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Mr Jones has been a long-time opponent to officially recognised facts relating to climate and environmental data.

In 2012 he was ordered to undergo factual accuracy training and employ a fact-checker, which came after it was found he breached the commercial radio code of practice by stating human beings produced 0.001 per cent of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“Nature produces nearly all the carbon dioxide in the air,” he told his listeners.

Climate change scientist David Karoly disagreed, telling The Age Australians were actually responsible for 0.45 percent of total carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

''Obviously, we would much rather prefer that the comments of people like Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt were, in fact, correct,'' Dr Karoly said.

In addition to Mr Jones’ latest run-in with factual accuracy, his comments relating to the New Zealand prime minister also drew considerable condemnation.

“The comment has been relayed to me, on what’s been reported to me, I find that very disappointing and of course that’s way out of line,” Mr Morrison told reporters at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu.

“I have two daughters, so you can expect that’s how I would feel personally about it. I’ll leave others to explain what they’ve said and how they’ve said it.”

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meets with Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison for a bilateral meeting during the Pacific Islands Forum in Funafuti, Tuvalu, on Wednesday. Source: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull lashed the shock jock on Twitter, calling his comments a “misogynistic rant” and said he should apologise to Ms Ardern.

“When I announced Australia’s Pacific Step Up in 2016 climate action was a key priority. It may be political to some, but it’s existential in the Pacific,” Mr Turnbull added.

Fiji's prime minister Frank Bainimarama – who earlier in the week praised the Kiwi leader, saying it was good to have an ally like New Zealand in the Pacific's corner – also used Twitter to hit out at Mr Jones.

“Easy to tell someone to shove a sock down a throat when you’re sitting in the comfort of a studio. The people of the Pacific, forced to abandon their homes due to climate change, don’t have that luxury,” the Fijian Prime Minister said.

“Try saying it to a Tuvaluan child pleading for help.”

Mr Jones is yet to apologise for the remarks.

Others on social media were also quick to draw parallels between his latest insulting statements towards a female political leader — a demographic which he has a history of abusive and sexist language towards.

Mr Jones previously drew criticism by suggesting then-prime minister Julia Gillard should be “put into a chaff bag and thrown into the sea’’.

He was then heard saying her father, who had recently died, had “died of shame”.

Mr Morrison and his Pacific counterparts have been locked in negotiations since Thursday over the wording of the final message from the Pacific Islands Forum.

Australia is at odds with the smaller nations over the mention of phrases relating to coal and in reducing emissions.

With AAP

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