EXCLUSIVE: TEN Breakfast co-host Paul Henry has apologised after comments he made yesterday that asylum seekers should be allowed to starve to death.
The controversial New Zealander was reacting to news that Christmas Island asylum seekers were on a hunger strike over plans to shift them to Nauru Island.
He was slammed by viewers on Twitter and Facebook:
Lynne D Johansen: @channelten PAUL HENRY!! Disgusting remarks on Breakfast… Let all the boat ppl starve to death.Get rid of this disgusting person!!!
Kaz: @channelten Racist Paul Henry states we should just let asylum seekers starve to death. Go TEN. Isn’t your rep bad enough at the moment?
Victoria Craw: Execs must be wincing after that outrageous call from Paul Henry re asylum seekers #tenbreakfast
Andrew Butler: @tenbreakfast Did Paul Henry say “let them starve” whats that about, there needs to be an inquiry into his comments!
Trev Good: @tenbreakfast send Paul Henry back to nz. Dehumanize yourself else where #refugees=human
Yesterday Henry issued a statement:
“I want to apologise for some of my comments on Breakfast this morning.
“My aim was to stimulate debate about the Government policy concerning asylum seekers in light of the hunger strike.
“People have interpreted my comments on Breakfast regarding asylum seekers and hunger strikes inaccurately. Some people believe I was implying that asylum seekers on hunger strike should die. I’m genuinely sorry if I gave that impression.
“It is the personal choice of the hunger striker to take this course of action. I was merely stating my view that our response to their action should be to stand firm and follow through with current Australian policy.
“I believe doing that will ultimately save many lives.
“I didn’t set out to offend anyone, nor do I believe that anyone should die over such a matter.”
He will also apologise on air today.
TEN was quick to distance itself from his remarks, despite Henry being hired by TEN Chairman, Lachlan Murdoch.
A network spokesperson told TV Tonight, “Network TEN unreservedly apologies for Paul Henry’s inappropriate and offensive remarks. His comments do not reflect the views of Network TEN.”
But this isn’t the first time the controversial host has been criticised for his comments on asylum seekers. In May he commented on the government’s plans to pay families to temporarily house asylum seekers in their homes to help deal with increasing arrivals.
He suggested they could live in linen cupboards.
“That’s a good idea, 300 bucks a week for the linen cupboard. You could put – you’d want to get the linen out, wouldn’t you? Otherwise (inaudible) ‘oh, these sheets are dirty. Ergh’.
“Don’t ask. These towels… (sniffs) oh no, don’t ask. We’ve got someone living in the linen cupboard kids, just don’t go in there.”
Meanwhile the ratings for the ailing Breakfast continue to flop, last week averaging a dismal 32,000 viewers.
While The Circle never fully recovered from comments about Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, at least it had a following to begin with.