Michael Daley, the Labor Party leader in New South Wales, Australia, has responded to criticisms after a clip of some xenophobic comments he made last year went viral.
Daley was recorded at an event in September discussing housing affordability. He said, “There’s a transformation happening in Sydney now where our kids are moving out and foreigners are moving in and taking their jobs.”
In the video, which came to light just days before state elections, he said Sydney’s “young children” are “being replaced by young people from typically Asia with Ph.D.s.”
The comments were particularly alarming, as Sydney boasts a large Asian community, with people of Chinese descent alone making up roughly a quarter of the population. Needless to say, the statements did not sit well with many constituents as well as fellow members of the state Parliament.
“A couple [of MPs] have rung up and wanted clarification, and I’ve spoken with them, and they’ve accepted what I’ve said,” he said.
Daley said that he “could’ve expressed myself better” and that “no offense was meant,” insisting his overall message remains the same.
“I want everyone’s kids to be able to afford to live in Sydney, and it’s housing affordability that’s driving them out.
Daley added that he “didn’t say it was a bad thing that Asian people are coming here. I said it was bad that my daughter has left.”
His comments had spurred widespread criticism across the internet.
In May, now-former Labor leader Luke Foley was blasted for saying Sydney’s suburbs were experiencing “white flight.”
“I won’t use that term again. Some people find it offensive, so I apologize. I want the entire focus to be on growing jobs and building better schools and Tafes in these suburbs,” he later told Ten Eyewitness News.
Foley resigned in November after ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper accused him of putting his hands inside her underwear at a Christmas party in 2016, and Daley replaced Foley.