Australian broadcaster Steve Price has apologised for his explosive rant about "virtue-signalling" Jacinda Ardern that received widespread criticism on social media.
On Tuesday night's episode of The Project Australia, Price lambasted the New Zealand Prime Minister for holidaying in Australia and not in New Zealand. He questioned why Ardern wasn't coming under similar fire to Australian PM Scott Morrison, who was criticised for going on holiday in the midst of the horrific bushfires.
"If you can criticise Scott Morrison for going to Hawaii... why is she not in Hamilton or Canterbury or somewhere like that? What's she doing hanging around Australia?" Price, a former 2GB radio host, said.
Co-host Peter van Onselen noted that New Zealand is not currently facing a national crisis.
Among his torrent of critical remarks, Price also said he was "sick and tired of that woman" and that it was typical of Ardern to virtue-signal.
He has now backed down, telling The Project Australia that he regrets his comments and wants to apologise.
"What I said was disrespectful to her as a woman. Importantly, it was also disrespectful of the office of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, our closest ally," he said.
"She has got every right to be here in Australia and what I said last night was dumb."
Questioned whether he was only apologising to stop the online abuse, Price said he was genuine.
"I got home last night, watched myself and thought back and I thought I was wrong to do it.
"If I make a mistake I own it. I made a mistake last night, a dumb one, and I'm here to say sorry."
Price's Tuesday night blasting of Ardern came after she and fiance Clarke Gayford were snapped wining and dining in Australia. Local workers described the pair as "friendly" and "down to earth".
The bushfires have decimated parts of the New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, killing at least 28 people and destroying hundreds of homes. Many on social media critical of Morrison's leadership during the crisis have called for Ardern to become their country's Prime Minister, praising her work after the Christchurch attacks.