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MPs’ insults ‘trivialise reality of life under the Nazi jackboot’


By: Jared Owens

Jewish leaders are alarmed at the “increasing frequency” of polit­ical hyperbole involving Nazism, warning that the pointscoring risks “trivialising” the horrors of the Third Reich.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s caution follows Tony Abbott’s recent apologies for comparing Bill Shorten with Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels and accusing Labor of overseeing “a holocaust of jobs” in the defence industry.

The Coalition’s only Jewish federal MP, Josh Frydenberg, on Sunday warned it was “inappropriate” for climate change activists to attack their critics as “deniers” and criticised the ­Opposition Leader for comments about the Liberal Party’s “book-burning instincts”.

Council president Robert Goot and executive director Peter Wertheim urged politicians to show “special care” to avoid “the inappropriate use of analogies to Nazi tyranny in Australian politics”.

“There is, thankfully, nothing in Australia’s history and experience that is even remotely comparable to the unique evil and horror of the Hitler period in Germany and Europe,” they said in a joint statement.

“Regrettably, the use of inappropriate analogies with Nazism has crept into political discourse in Australia with increasing frequency.

“This has the effect of trivialising Nazi totalitarianism, particularly in the thinking of younger people, who have no personal point of entry into understanding the realities of life under the Nazi jackboot.

“Similarly, Holocaust denial, which is about vilifying Jews and has nothing to do with a discussion of history or ideas, ought not to be likened to points of view on other issues which do not entail racial vilification.”

Mr Frydenberg said it was “inappropriate” for the Prime Minister to describe Mr Shorten as “the Dr Goebbels of economic policy” and was glad Mr Abbott apolog­ised. “That being said, I think Labor has engaged in massive hypocrisy here … In fact even Bill Shorten last year talked about the book-burning instincts of the ­Coalition — we all know that as a reference back to 1933 Germany,” the Assistant Treasurer told the Ten Network.

Mr Frydenberg agreed with interviewer Andrew Bolt’s criticism of “global warming believers who deliberately use the word ‘denier’ to make an analogy with Holocaust denial”.

“Absolutely. I think that’s inappropriate too,” he said.

A Labor source denied Mr Shorten’s mention of “book burning” referred to the call by Goebbel’s to destroy “un-­German” literature. Mr Shorten’s spokeswoman said: “Josh Frydenberg is looking for every ­excuse to avoid calling the Prime Minister out on his inappropriate comments.

“If Josh Frydenberg won’t speak out against the Prime Minister’s inappropriate comments, then that’s a matter for him.”

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