Prime Minister Tony Abbott was met with opposition outrage when he described rising unemployment in the defence industry as a “holocaust of jobs”.
Mr Abbott was answering a Labor question about the latest unemployment figures, including 7.3 per cent in the South Australia where defence industry jobs have traditionally been strong.
“Under members opposite, defence jobs in this country declined by 10 per cent,” Mr Abbott told parliament on Thursday.
“There was a holocaust of jobs in defence industries.”
Mr Abbott subsequently apologised and withdrew the comment. He replaced the word “holocaust” with “decimation”.
[display-jwplayer playerwidth=”100%” playervideourl=”/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Abbot-Haulocaust-TND-web-crunch.mp4″]
Users on social media were quick to seize on the gaffe.
good government starts now holocaust holocaust holocaust holocaust
— adam brereton (@adambrereton) February 12, 2015
— Mikey Nicholson (@Mikey_Nicholson) February 12, 2015
He later returned to the microphone to apologise for the remark.
Labor frontbencher Mark Dreyfus said the comment would be deeply offensive to survivors of the Holocaust, the murder of six million Jews by Germany’s Nazi regime in World War II.
“Comments like this should have no place in Australian political debate and should never have been made in the first place,” Mr Dreyfus said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said the government had taken its eye off job creation as the Liberals argued over the leadership.
“When will the Prime Minister stop worrying about his own job and start worrying about the jobs of Australians?” he said.
The Prime Minister earlier scolded a broadcaster for being impertinent and claimed his “outstanding” team had made only one big mistake in 17 months.
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Abbott also took aim at the Australian Human Rights Commission as he responded to its report of an inquiry into children in immigration detention.
He said the commission should be ashamed of itself, because of its “blatantly partisan” exercise that, among other things, recommended a royal commission.
He said while 2000 children were in detention under the Labor government, his government has reduced the number to 200.
Asked whether he felt any guilt over the way children were treated in detention, Mr Abbott said: “None whatsoever.”
“The most compassionate thing you can do is stop the boats,” he told Fairfax radio Thursday morning.
– with AAP