Ex-multiculturalism minister accused of racism
Former NSW multiculturalism minister Mark Coure has been forced to apologise after he was accused of making a racist comment directed at Cabramatta MP Tri Vo.
The remark was made during question time on Wednesday as Mr Vo, who is of Vietnamese descent, was about to ask Health Minister Ryan Park a question.
Mr Coure’s comments were noted by the Labor MP for Charlestown, Jodie Harrison, who said there was “no place for racism” in parliament.
“After the member for Cabramatta asked the question, the member for Oatley made an offensive racist comment and I would ask that comment be withdrawn,” said Ms Harrison in the lower house.
“There is no place for racism in this place.”
Towards the end of question time, Mr Coure withdrew his comment and said it was a “poor attempt at humour”.
“It was not intended to cause any offence,” he said.
“I apologise to the member in question. As the former member of multiculturalism, I celebrate our diversity in society. It is our greatest asset.
“The comment I made did not intend or was not considered to focus on individual background and again, I withdraw the comment.”
Greens MP Jenny Leong said Mr Coure’s comments were not just offensive to Mr Vo but offensive to everyone in the chamber.
“I’d like him to withdraw the comment and recognise there was offence caused to many members in the chamber,” Ms Leong said.
“When racist comments are made of disgraceful proportions, the withdrawal of the comments should be made to everybody in the chamber because there is no place for that kind of racist comment in the chamber.”
NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said Mr Coure’s comments were “inappropriate,” and confirmed caucus members had spoken to Mr Vo. He called on both sides of politics to ensure “lift the standards”.
“Not one side of politics has a monopoly on virtue. Both sides of politics have to lift their game,” he said.
“We’re two weeks into it, and it’s appropriate that as Parliament continues into the next four years, we show the people of NSW that standards are getting better.“
Mr Vo has been approached for comment.