He later apologised for his "poor choice of words", claiming they were not directed at asylum seekers. "I have just been on the phone to Mr Phil Glendenning, the president of Refugee Council of Australia," Mr Fawcett told a late senate session. "He has outlined how the words I spoke earlier today have been taken, and the deep hurt that this has caused across the network of communities that his council represents... consequently I sincerely apologise." Australia has a tough and controversial policy of holding asylum seekers who arrive by boat in offshore detention centres on the Pacific nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Context defence Mr Fawcett made the remark as he criticised Labor for highlighting cost blowouts in the Department of Immigration and Border Control. "I just do question the ethics of nitpicking when your particular group perhaps brought the fleas in the first place," he said. The comment was met with a "hear hear" by one person present, while fellow government Senator Ian MacDonald said "nicely put". Mr Fawcett later claimed he had been misconstrued. He said the comment was meant as a figure of speech to criticise Labor MPs for "pursuing very small" details on asylum seeker policies "during a period of great activity and stress" for the department. Labor immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann said it was "beyond belief" that a "government senator would ever refer to vulnerable people seeking asylum as fleas, and even worse, to have other coalition senators laugh, cheer and eagerly agree". Australia's offshore detention policy is supported by the government and Labor.
A variety of bitters are available for tasting at the Napa Valley Distillery inside the Oxbow Public Market in Napa. The distillery features the largest selection of bitters in the world. Photo: James Tensuan, Special To The Chronicle Image 2 of 11 Curstin Perry pours a beer for a customer at Fieldwork, a new craft brewery inside the Oxbow Public Market in Napa. Curstin Perry pours a beer for a customer at Fieldwork, a new craft brewery inside the Oxbow Public Market in Napa. Photo: James Tensuan, Special To The Chronicle Image 3 of 11 The retail store inside the newly opened CIA at Copia. The retail store inside the newly opened CIA at Copia. Photo: James Tensuan, Special To The Chronicle Image 4 of 11 Linens are lined up at the CIA at Copia retail store in Napa. Linens are lined up at the CIA at Copia retail store in Napa. Photo: James Tensuan, Special To The Chronicle Image 5 of 11 Vintage goods are sold at Ottimo in Yountville. Michael Chiarello's replacement for NapaStyle features a shop and a restaurant. Vintage goods are sold at Ottimo in Yountville.
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