Queensland MP Vaughan Johnson apologises for Asian drivers comments

Gregory MP Vaughan Johnson has back-tracked on comments deemed ‘inappropriate”. Photo: Harrison SaragossiJust hours after Premier Campbell Newman publicly chastised an MP over his comments regarding foreign drivers, Vaughan Johnson has apologised.

Mr Newman said he did not agree with Mr Johnson’s concerns about international drivers, which he first expressed in parliament on Wednesday and expanded on Thursday morning in a Fairfax Radio interview where he singled out Asian drivers as also not understanding road rules “in their own countries”.

Mr Newman said he went too far.

“I have great respect for Vaughan’s efforts as a hard working local member. I don’t agree with his comments and I reject them and I believe he understands that he went a little too far in his comments,” he said.

“…He has been spoken to.”

But Mr Newman would not say whether he had personally spoken to Mr Johnson.

“You’ve got the comment you are going to get on the matter,” he told journalists.

“You know how I feel about what he said, I don’t agree with it, I think it was inappropriate and he knows that is the case.”

The government media unit released a letter of apology from Mr Johnson shortly after Mr Newman’s press conference.

“I wish to apologise for any offence caused by my recent comments regarding foreign drivers on Queensland roads,” it read.

“I wanted to convey that all drivers in Queensland must take care on the roads.

“I regret the way in which I expressed my concerns, and acknowledge my comments were inappropriate.”

Mr Johnson also created controversy in November 2009 when he spoke of his concerns regarding foreign-born taxi drivers in parliament, commenting “they all look the same”.

Speaking on a road transport bill in Parliament on Wednesday evening, Mr Johnson expressed concerns about foreign drivers and their lack of “understanding at all of the conditions of the roads that they drive, on the distances they drive and what lays ahead”.

Speaking to Fairfax Radio 4BC Mornings on Thursday, the Member for Gregory went further.

“It’s foreign people who come here, want to work here, we get a lot of backpackers working in this country now,” he said.

“Some of those people come from countries where they drive on a different side of the road to us.

“Many of those Asian people, and I’m not against Asian people and don’t get me wrong, but a lot of those Asian people come from an environment where they have no comprehension of road rules in their own countries let alone come here and think they can just meld into the system. It doesn’t work like that.

“Many of these people don’t understand the distances they drive.

“We’ve had fatalities on the roads here in Queensland and Australia, many of them have been foreign people with no comprehension at all of the distances of the fatigue factor and every other factor that goes with driving in our country.”

In November 2009, Mr Johnson took to Parliament to express his concerns about foreign taxi drivers, saying “they all look the same” and questioning their ability to drive.

The Liberal National Party MP, who told Parliament earlier this year that the female body was the “most sacred thing on the planet”, is known for his outspoken brashness as well as his advocacy of road safety issues.

He said he did not have a breakdown of the number of foreign drivers involved in car crashes to back his claims, but said every driver needed to take more responsibility on the road.

“What I would like to see here is people that want to drive in our country have a full understanding of the complexities of driving here to do a course through a proper driving instructors’ operation,” he said, adding that he would like those even on a short holiday to “learn the rules”.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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