Mar 19, 2015 5:25 AM
Australian premier takes back his 2nd recent Nazi comparison
The Associated Press
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) Australia's gaffe-prone prime minister took back his second Nazi-related comment in a month on Thursday after he compared the opposition party leader to German World War II-era propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
Tony Abbott told Parliament that Labor Party leader Bill Shorten was "the Dr. Goebbels of economic policy."
Abbott immediately said he withdrew the comment, as opposition lawmakers yelled in protest.
Speaker Bronwyn Bishop ordered Labor lawmaker Mark Dreyfus one of only three Jewish lawmakers in Parliament out of the House of Representatives for rising from his seat to angrily berate the prime minister.
Fellow Labor lawmaker Michael Danby, also Jewish, left the chamber with Dreyfus in solidarity.
"There are no Nazis here and we shouldn't be making comparisons with the paradigm of the ultimate evil in politics to heighten political differences," Danby told The Associated Press later.
"It's beneath him, and it goes to the question of his judgment. I think a lot of his backbench will be groaning and tearing their hair out," Danby added.
Dreyfus, who in 2011 described an Abbott political campaign in a newspaper opinion piece as "Goebbellian," described Abbott's reference to the Nazi as inappropriate for a prime minister.
Abbott last month apologized to Parliament for describing a 10 percent reduction in defense industry jobs under a former Labor government as a "holocaust of jobs."
Peter Wertheim, executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry Inc., an organization representing Jewish community organizations, declined to comment on Thursday because of his council's apolitical stance.
But he referred AP to the council's longstanding policy statement that it: "Deplores the inappropriate use of analogies to the Nazi genocide in Australian public debate."
Abbott received an unexpected rebuke from the Irish prime minister this week for a St. Patrick's Day video message broadcast online by his Liberal Party.
Wearing a green tie, Abbott apologized to Ireland because: "I can't be there to share a Guinness or two or maybe even three."
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny told the Irish Independent newspaper he had seen Abbott's comments and did not agree with them. Kenny told the newspaper he advocated responsible celebrations and rejected "a stage Irish perception."
Some of Abbott's government colleagues openly questioned his political judgment in January when he announced on Australia's national day that he had granted Queen Elizabeth II's husband Prince Philip an Australian knighthood.
The disquiet helped trigger a challenge to his leadership within the ruling Liberal Party. While he survived a no-confidence ballot, his leadership is vulnerable while he remains unpopular in opinion polls.