Tag Archives: tony abbott

President Tong questions moral values of Australian leaders

President Anote Tong has questioned the moral values of Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and his colleague Prime Minister Tony Abbott over the joke made by Dutton about Pacific Island countries and their struggle with the rising sea levels.

Tong criticized the two Australian politicians over their insensitive joke about Pacific Islanders having no sense of time because “water is lapping at their door”. The remark made by Dutton was enjoyed by Abbott recklessly laughing unaware that a camera with a boom microphone was rolling above their heads.

“It shows a sense of moral irresponsibility quite unbecoming of leadership in any capacity,” President Tong said in an interview with ABC just minutes after touching down in Fiji, on his way back home from Papua New Guinea.

More saddened than outraged, Tong added “this is the issue we were talking about yesterday,” referring to the recently concluded talks in Port Moresby where climate change was effectively watered down by Australia (and New Zealand).

“I find that extremely sad, extremely disappointing that we are making jokes about a very serious issue,” he said.

Eastern tip of Temaiku village grapple with the encroaching seas

Eastern tip of Temaiku village on Tarawa atoll continues to grapple with the encroaching seas

Read more: Kiribati’s President lashes Peter Dutton for sea-levels joke

The video of Minister Dutton making the joke with Prime Minister Abbott laughing along had gone viral over the web and has created an outrage by many including several Pacific Island leaders.

Marshall Island’s Foreign Minister, Tony de Brum voiced his dismay over Twitter about the Australian Ministers joking about sea level rise in the Pacific: “Next time waves are battering my home and my grandkids are scared, I’ll ask Peter Dutton to come over, and we’ll see if he is still laughing.”

Also on Twitter, the Governor of Papua New Guinea province of Oro expressed his disappointment at Prime Minister Abbott laughing along to the joke: “ABBOTT MUST APOLOGIZE FOR INSENSITIVITY TOWARDS ALL FOR LAUGHING AT CLIMATE CHANGE. Remove him next elections Australia, you deserve better.”

Meanwhile, climate group 350.org had written a letter to Prime Minister Abbott expressing their disappointment to the way Australia is treating an issue which concerns the life of Pacific islanders. They also demanded that Immigration Minister Dutton step down from office after the disgraceful joke he made on Friday morning.

Pacific Island Countries mainly the Small Island Developing States such as Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu have been struggling for more than a decade to cope with the impacts of sea-level rise caused by climate change. The impacts include inundation of villages, sea-water intrusion to their source of drinking water and the inability to grow food crops to name but a few.

Read more: Pacific leaders respond to Australian Minister’s sea level remarks.

People’s life in the Pacific is a big laughing joke: Australian Minister of Immigration and Prime Minister Tony Abbott

The Betio Maternity Ward in Kiribati's capital is under threat from the March 2015 spring tide

The Betio Maternity Ward on Tarawa atoll – Kiribati’s capital is under threat from the March 2015 spring tide

While climate change is an issue that concerns the life and very existence of people in the Pacific Island nations, it is somehow a big laughing joke according to Australian Minister of Immigration Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Climate Change was a top agenda for Pacific Island leaders at the recently concluded 46th Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea where Abbott also joined.

The agenda, as anticipated, was greatly watered down by the Pacific’s very own ‘bigger brothers’ Australia and New Zealand resulting in a failure for the Pacific grouping to reach a strong and unified declaration to take to Paris.

And in only less than 24 hours after the forum, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott upon returning to Canberra, laughed recklessly at a joke made by his fellow Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on the plight of Pacific Island people on climate change.

Ironically and oblivious to it, a camera with a boom microphone had captured the whole conversation which included the insensitive joke – which in essence, is a big slap to the faces of Pacific Island leaders who passionately pleaded for a declaration that will help save their people from the impacts of climate change at the recent forum meeting.

Watch video here: PM Abbott laughing recklessly at a joke made by fellow Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on the plight of Pacific Islanders on climate change

Want to share your views on this story? Go to our Facebook page…


The Betio Hospital was hit hard during the March 2015 Spring Tide causing it to be temporarily relocated to the Betio Sports Complex. The hospital has since resumed normal operations after the coastal area was fortified by slabs of concrete sea-walls