Thatcher made racist comments: Australian minister

London, April 10 (IANS) Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr has accused late former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher of making “unabashedly racist” comments, where she said Australia will become “like Fiji where Indian migrants have taken over”.

Labor Party senator Bob Carr claims his wife Helena – who is Malaysia-born – was “standing not far away” when Thatcher allegedly made the controversial comments, the Daily Mail reported.

Carr made the comments in a TV interview from China. But the daily said his claims could not be verified.

“I recall one conversation I had with her (Thatcher) in her retirement where she said something that was unabashedly racist,” Carr told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“(She said) that if we allowed too much of it, we’d see the natives of the land, the European settlers, overtaken by migrants,” he said.

Carr, a former premier of New South Wales state, said Thatcher used the Pacific island nation of Fiji as an example.

“She said you’ll end up like Fiji. She said ‘I like Sydney but you can’t allow the migrants,’ and in context she meant Asian migration, ‘to take over, otherwise you’ll end up like Fiji where the Indian migrants have taken over’,” he said.

Carr said he couldn’t believe her comments and was so speechless that he couldn’t think of an appropriate reply, the Daily Mail said.

In Fiji, the Indo-Fijian community formed a majority of the population in 1970 when it achieved independence from Britain.

The community are descendants of labourers who travelled to the former British colony to work on sugar plantations in the late 19th century. In 2000, Mahendra Chaudhry, the first Indo-Fijian prime minister, was taken hostage in a coup.

Carr, however, made it clear that he still respected Thatcher on the grounds that she challenged the centre-left to modernise, the Guardian reported.

However, Julie Bishop, deputy leader of the Opposition in Australia, said Carr’s “crude” comments were graceless and he should immediately apologise to Thatcher’s family.

Thatcher, 87, died Monday after suffering a series of strokes. She was prime minister from 1979 to 1990 and the Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990.

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