Auckland local board member apologises after sexist comments

David Battersby.
David Battersby. Photo credit: Auckland Council

An Auckland Council local board member has found himself in serious trouble after calling Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter a "silly bitch" on Facebook.

Whau local board member Derek Battersby's comment came in a Facebook post, in which he'd shared an article about the Green MP.

The article was about Ms Genter's insistence that there needs to be more diversity on company boards, saying old white men should "move on" to allow for new talent to come through.

"If we're going to improve the diversity of boards, then we will need some of the current positions vacated so there can be room for new diversity and talent," she said.

At the time, many people complained about Ms Genter's comments and a complaint was lodged with the Human Rights Commission - but the Green MP stood by her words.

Mr Battersby was among those who proved far from impressed by her remarks.

"Silly bitch," he wrote. "Old white men saved us from Hitler in the Second World War. She should stay home and look after the kids."

Auckland local board member apologises after sexist comments
Photo credit: Facebook

Ms Genter told Stuff she had not read Mr Battersby's posts but did not think his comments were representative of the majority.

"His views are not representative of most New Zealanders, and probably not representative of his constituents," she said.

"I hope that the people who are voting for that local board realise this is the sort of thing he's using his platform to say, and re-evaluate whether that's really what they want to vote for next time."

It's not the first post Mr Battersby has made contentious comments online. Another Facebook post of his appears to suggest Asian drivers should have special plates on their cars so other drivers can identify them.

Speaking to Stuff, Mr Battersby said he didn't believe the comment was offensive and he had recently witnessed poor driving from an Asian driver.

After being approached by media, Mr Battersby has now backed away from his comments on Facebook - although he is defending his right to freedom of speech.

"First my Facebook page is under my own name second free speech is my right," he wrote.

"However, I can be over the top at times and seeing a number of my posts clipped together in a file caused me concern.

"So I do apologise to those I may have offended and removed those posts."