Key stands by 'back the rapists' comments

  • 12/11/2015
Prime Minister John Key (File)
Prime Minister John Key (File)

Prime Minister John Key isn't backing down from his "you back the rapists" comment, saying he's the one who's standing up for the victims of crime.

Mr Key shouted the comment across the floor during question time on Tuesday as he criticised the opposition's support for Kiwis being held in Australian detention centres awaiting deportation.

His refusal to back down and apologise for it yesterday sparked a walkout of women MPs who were the survivors of sexual violence.

"I'm actually the person who's been standing up for victims of crime," Mr Key told reporters in Christchurch today.

"The advocacy from the opposition has solely been about those who have committed the crimes and that was the point I was making on Tuesday and that has been correct."

But Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei, one of the MPs who spoke out about being sexually assaulted, doesn't accept that.

"I think he deliberately offended the Parliament on Tuesday. I think he used those words 'backing rapists' on purpose to distract from the challenge to his record on the issue of New Zealand detainees and that is using rape as a political tool," she told reporters.

"There is no excuse for that behaviour."

Ms Turei also said it's "blatantly untrue" that her party hasn't been standing up for victims.

Labour's Kelvin Davis said he never said those being held in detention centres were "angels".

"What I'm talking about is human rights abuses and human rights abuses show no bias," he said.

"It's sad that [Mr Key's] had to stoop to using sexual violence as a way to whip the opposition."

Of the 585 people in the deportation pipeline, 34 have been convicted of child sex offences, 22 for murder and 16 for rape and sexual offences.

None of those being held on Christmas Island have been convicted of murder or rape.