Alan Jones accuses critics of 'wilful misinterpretation' over 'sock' comments directed at Jacinda Ardern

Controversial Australian broadcaster Alan Jones has hit back against criticism of his call for Scott Morrison to "shove a sock down" Jacinda Ardern's throat.

Jones, 78, was angry at comments the New Zealand Prime Minister made on Thursday regarding Australia's contribution to carbon emissions.

She said fossil-fuel dependent Australia "has to answer to the Pacific", with the futures of thousands of inhabitants of low-lying islands at risk thanks to rising sea levels and more powerful and frequent storms. 

"I just wonder whether Scott Morrison is going to be fully briefed to shove a sock down her throat," Jones, a veteran talkback host said, also calling her an "utter lightweight" and the science of climate change "the biggest joke" and a hoax.

Ardern said she wouldn't dignify Jones' comments with a response.

Alan Jones.
Alan Jones. Photo credit: AAP

Jones later issued an apology of sorts, saying he never meant to say the Australian Prime Minister should literally shove a sock down her throat.

"What I meant to say was that Scott Morrison should tell Ms Ardern to 'put a sock in it'," he said.

"This wilful misinterpretation distracts from my point that she was wrong about climate change and wrong about Australia's contribution to carbon dioxide levels."

Morrison himself said Jones' comments were "very disappointing" and agreed with Ardern's view that her comments had been mischaracterised in the Australian media.

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called Jones' attack a "misogynistic rant". Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said Jones should try telling a "Tuvaluan child pleading for help" that climate change is a hoax. 

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: AAP

Jones had support however in some quarters. The Australian's environment editor Graham Lloyd said demands for Australia to "abandon its coal production and exports for the good of the climate in the Pacific is akin to asking New Zealand to give up its love affair with sheep", apparently unaware sheep numbers in New Zealand have plummeted more than 60 percent since the early 1980s, from 70 million to 27 million.

Australia has seen a similar decline, from 180 million in 1970 to about 70 million now.

New Zealand on Thursday announced half of its $300 million global climate finance commitment would be spent in the Pacific. Australia has committed AU$500 million (NZ$525 million). 

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