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Australia PM Abbott Caught Laughing About Rising Sea Levels in Pacific

Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott has been caught out laughing at a joke about climate change in the Pacific.
Image: Australian prime minister Tony Abbott
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, 09 September 2015. The Australian government has decided to take 12,000 additional Syrian refugees. LUKAS COCH / EPA

Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott was caught out Friday when he was recorded laughing at a joke about rising water levels in the Pacific.

The prime minister was discussing the recent Pacific Islands Forum in Papua New Guinea with two of his senior ministers but didn't realize there was a live microphone overhead.

Abbott had been commenting on meetings at the forum running behind schedule when his immigration minister, Peter Dutton, quipped: 'Time doesn't mean anything when you're about to have water lapping at your door."

The prime minister openly laughed before his social services minister, Scott Morrison — seen by some as an alternate leader to the faltering Abbott — pointed out "There's a boom [microphone] up there."

The incident was slammed by opposition politicians and environmentalists in the Pacific Islands, which face severe threats from rising sea levels.

"Our regional neighbors are going to be utterly horrified at the disdain that our Prime Minister has shown them," said Senator Larissa Waters, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Abbott is renowned for his gaffes, once remarking that "**** happens" in reference to a fallen soldier and commenting in 2014 that removing the nation's carbon tax was the best thing he'd done for Australian women because it lowered the cost of ironing.

Image: Pacific Islands Forum in PNG
Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (center) at the Pacific Island Forum in Papua New Guinea.MICK TSIKAS / EPA