Alan Jones’ stunning offer to Jacinda
It's probably the last thing New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wants to take part in, but broadcaster Alan Jones has asked her to come on his show for a live interview.
Jones, who fronts the breakfast show on radios stations 2GB and 4BC, caused a trans-Tasman diplomatic incident last month when he lashed Ms Ardern on his program.
As Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Ms Ardern were meeting at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu, the Sydney-based radio host said the NZ PM was a "joke" for championing climate change policies when her country's emission of carbon dioxide had increased per capita since 1990.
"She is a joke, this woman, an absolute and utter lightweight," he said on air.
"I just wonder whether Scott Morrison is going to be fully briefed to shove a sock down her throat."
The comments caused an outcry, with many saying they were violent in nature. It led advertisers to dump the Macquarie Media network from their budgets and was the impetus for station bosses to begin a review of Jones.
He was warned his future on air was at risk.
The fallout was so severe for Jones, it has now emerged that he wrote a grovelling apology to Ms Ardern the very next day.
The Guardian applied for a copy of the letter under the Official Information Act in which Jones addresses the Prime Minister as "My dear" and invites her onto his show.
He acknowledged that on climate change "my view differs significantly from yours".
Jones said his comments "don't need to be repeated here" but "didn't come out quite as I intended".
"I had meant to say 'put a sock in it'," he wrote and added the words were taken literally "by someone who took offence on your behalf".
"Prime Minister, I would like to assure you that I did not intend to suggest any violence towards you," he wrote.
"While I may disagree with your stance on climate change, I would never wish any harm to you."
He asked that she accept his "sincere apologies".
However, he then suggested she might like to front up to his show.
"I would also like to extend a standing invitation to participate in an interview on my program, which would allow us to constructively debate the issue of climate change," Jones wrote.
She has not taken him up on the invite.
Ms Ardern has said little about the comments from across the ditch and hasn't condemned Jones' remarks.
After the incident she told reporters in New Zealand she didn't have an opinion on Australian commentators as "we've got enough of our own".
"I am a politician, I am open for criticism and, of course, we should all be held to account, and the idea that any politician could or should be protected, I absolutely rally against that," Ms Ardern said.
But she did say she thought a response might be best delivered on the rugby field, pointing to Jones' past as coach of the Wallabies from 1984 to 1988.
"I understand that (Jones) of course used to be closely linked to the Wallabies … let's just say that I think revenge is best served through a Bledisloe Cup," she said.
In August, New Zealand retained the Bledisloe Cup after the Kiwis beat Australia 36-0 at Eden Park.