NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith has engaged in a slanging match with Sydney shock jock Ray Hadley over claims he called his listeners "rednecks" and readers of the city's daily tabloid "bigoted fools".
Sources in the Liberal Party claim Mr Smith made the comments at a Liberal branch Christmas party on Saturday night in Beecroft in Sydney's northwest.
Hadley, an often controversial radio presenter and a columnist for The Daily Telegraph, told 2GB listeners yesterday he was "disappointed" to hear of the comments, given his support for the Attorney-General.
"Apparently and allegedly -- and this has been confirmed by three sources, including people who took a transcript of Mr Smith's off-the-cuff speech -- he spoke at length about the 'rednecks' who listen to my program . . . you, his constituents," Hadley said. "And he spoke in detail about the bigoted fools who read The Daily Telegraph. He spoke about my support of a public servant whom he didn't name and my continued support of this public servant, a public servant he wants to get rid of, apparently, but whom the Premier has expressed a desire to keep."
During a seven-minute conversation that dropped out twice, Hadley and Mr Smith then argued about what was said and whether the Attorney-General supports NSW prisons boss Ron Woodham.
Hadley accused Mr Smith of "going back to your Labor Party ways" -- a reference to his membership of the party nearly 20 years ago.
Several times Mr Smith denied the remarks, but he admitted using the term "rednecks" when discussing people who "supported a culture in NSW prisons that existed in the past".
"I have been taken out of context," he said.
"Clearly I have some people in the Liberal Party who will do anything to poison you or poison you towards me."
The slanging match ended when Mr Smith's line dropped out for a second time.
Yesterday, the Attorney-General released a statement, in which he declared: "I did not disparage readers of The Daily Telegraph in any way.
"In fact, I said that while they normally take an aggressive line on law and order, the Telegraph and radio stations 2GB and 2UE had been prepared to give the government a fair go as we argue success on law and order should not be judged alone in terms of how tough sentences are or how many people are locked up."
Hadley could not be contacted yesterday.
Listen to the interview here
and some more Hadley ranting on Smith the next day