FEDERAL Labor frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon has apologised after comparing the Australian Workers’ Union raids conducted by the Australian Federal Police to Nazi Germany.
Fitzgibbon, the shadow minister for agriculture, was speaking on Sky News on Wednesday when he said, “This is like Nazi Germany. The use of government resources to go on a political witch-hunt.”
When given the opportunity to withdraw the comment twice by Sky host David Speers, he refused to, adding, “This is the state moving against political opponents.”
Fitzgibbon told The AJN on Thursday: “Yesterday in the heat of the debate over the Government-ordered AFP raids on AWU offices I made an unfortunate reference.
“I intended no offence to any individual or community and apologise unconditionally to anyone who understandably felt offended by my remarks.”
However, a senior government source told The AJN Fitzgibbon’s statement “completely ignores” the fact that the Registered Organisations Commission acts independently of government, the AFP acts independently of government and the magistrate who granted the search warrant acts independent of government.
Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Anton Block told The AJN Fitzgibbon’s remarks were “unacceptable”.
“There is a common temptation to discredit political rivals by associating them with symbols of evil, the most striking and extreme of which is Nazism,” Block said.
“However, where the comparison is wholly without basis, it does nothing more than lower the discourse and diminish the speaker, in this case Mr Fitzgibbon.”
Block said the effect of making “such false comparisons”, whether they be with Nazism or with other brutal totalitarian regimes, is to “trivialise the horrors of the darkest chapters in human history and anaesthetise the public to the unique suffering of the victims”.