Just four weeks after attacking Labor for causing a “holocaust of jobs”, then withdrawing and apologising, prime minister Tony Abbott invoked Nazi imagery once again during Question Time today, calling opposition leader Bill Shorten “the Dr Goebbels of economic policy”.
As uproar engulfed the Parliament, the prime minister threw his hands in the air and said “I withdraw” six times, while speaker Bronwyn Bishop attempted to restore order.
Labor MP Mark Dreyfus, who is Jewish and represents the seat of Isaacs, named after Jewish MP Sir Isaac Isaacs, continued to interject as Bishop called for order, so Dreyfus ejected from the chamber under standing orders.
Manager of opposition business Tony Burke appealed to the speaker for leniency, saying “given the nature of what the prime minister said, I ask you to reconsider”.
Leader of the house Christopher Pyne rose to say Dreyfus “used exactly the same description about Tony Abbott” when he was opposition leader.
In a 2011 opinion piece headlined “Shades of Goebbels in truth campaign”, about the Coalition’s campaign against the carbon tax, Dreyfus wrote:
Leaving aside the Goebbellian cynicism of labelling a scare campaign a “truth campaign”, I think it shows Abbott’s contempt for the Australian electorate.
The speaker was unmoved by Burke’s appeal.
“I said the member for Isaacs will leave and he will,” Bishop replied.
It was too much for another Labor MP, Melbourne backbencher Michael Danby, who walked out on Question Time saying “if he’s out, I’m out over this”.
One MP can be heard saying “You are a disgusting, disgusting man”.
With order restored, the speaker gave the call back to the prime minister.
“I do withdraw and I do apologise for using that phrase,” Abbott said.
Joseph Goebbels was made Nazi propaganda minister by Adolf Hitler in the lead up to WWII. His incitements against Jews led to Kristallnacht, street riots targeting Jewish people and businesses. He killed his six children in Hitler’s bunker before committing suicide with his wife.
In the internet age, using comparisons with Nazis become known as Godwin’s Law, with the view that anyone who invokes Hitler’s empire loses the argument.
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