MP apologises for cringe-worthy border joke at citizenship ceremony
THE Federal Member for Flynn has apologised for a cringe-worthy jibe directed at a Mexican-born man during Wednesday night's Gladstone Citizenship Ceremony.
Former Gladstone resident Dante Reynaud was guest speaker at the event.
He spoke positively about his life since moving to Australia and becoming a citizen.
But Ken O'Dowd didn't get the reception he'd hoped for when he took the stage and joked Mr Reynaud was lucky to leave Mexico before US president Donald Trump's proposed wall was built.
The joke fell flat with the audience, with some using Facebook to describe the remark as "offensive" and "an all-time low".
However, the butt of the joke, Mr Reynaud, told The Observer he hadn't taken personal offence to Mr O'Dowd's comment.
"Everyone can feel like they want to feel but I don't worry about that," Mr Reynaud said.
"I'm used to people making jokes about Mexican people, but it didn't offend me."
Mr O'Dowd said the "offhand" comment wasn't made in a personal or derogatory fashion.
"Rather, (it) touched on the very real situation playing out at the moment in North America," he said.
"It is a shame that people may have taken offence at such an innocent comment, however I apologise for any distress my comments may have caused."
Mr Reynaud said he didn't believe a wall separating the US and Mexico would be effective.
"There's not any wall that can separate one country from another country, or one culture from another culture," he said.
"If people want to get somewhere, I think they will find a way."