Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr has claimed Margaret Thatcher made ''unabashedly racist'' comments when they last met, warning him not to let immigrants "take over" Sydney.
'I recall one conversation I had with her in her retirement where she said something that was unabashedly racist,'' he told ABC television on Tuesday night.
''She warned Australia - talking to me with Helena [his wife, who is of Malaysian origin] standing not far away - against Asian immigration, saying that if we allowed too much of it we'd see the natives of the land, the European settlers, overtaken by migrants.
He added: "She said: 'I like Sydney but you can't allow the migrants' - and in context she meant Asian migration - 'to take over, otherwise you will end up like Fiji where the Indian migrants have taken over'.
Carr, a Labor politician and the former head of the state of New South Wales, continued: ''I couldn't believe it. It reminded me that despite, yes, her greatness on those big questions, the role of the state, the evil nature of the communist totalitarianism, there was an old-fashioned quality to her that was entirely out of touch and probably explained why her party removed her in the early '90s.''
Carr said he respected Thatcher's bold leadership style but disagreed wholeheartedly with her politics, and had "100 other things I would pick arguments with her''.
Carr's claims about Thatcher's alleged racist comments, which cannot now be verified, have drawn criticism from the opposition in Australia.
Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop called the comments "a crude attempt to slur the reputation of one of the 20th century’s most outstanding leaders.’’
Other senators have also made their less than positive recollection of Thatcher's premiership abundantly clear. Tasmanian Labor government minister David O'Bryne called Thatcher a "war criminal".
"Been saying this about her for years, her death is a tragic thing for her family & loved ones but it does not erase her deeds," he tweeted.