FOREIGN Minister Bob Carr has said Margaret Thatcher, who died on Monday aged 87, made “unabashedly racist” remarks about Asian migration to Australia.
Mr Carr has told Lateline he recalled a conversation he had with the former British prime minister following her retirement in which the Baroness warned him Australia would “end up like Fiji” if it allowed continued migration from Asia.
Mr Carr said he found the remarks “unabashedly racist”.
Senator Carr’s Malaysian-born wife Helena was in the room at the time.
“Helena, fortunately, was out of ear shot,” said Mr Carr.
Mr Carr said he was “so astonished” he could not think of an appropriate reply and moved the conversation on to other topics.
However, Mr Carr also said the Baroness was deserving of respect, and should be credited for her political leadership.
“But I don’t say that in any way to diminish the respect I felt for her because of the boldness of her political leadership. She deserves credit for that, and that should be uppermost in our thoughts today.”
Opposition counterpart Julie Bishop has called on Mr Carr to immediately apologise for his comments.
Ms Bishop said it was a graceless and cowardly attack on Baroness Thatcher’s reputation.
“His decision to make these claims after her death is a crude attempt to slur the reputation of one of the 20th century’s most outstanding leaders,” Ms Bishop said in a statement on Wednesday.