Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has berated Labor and its leader Bill Shorten for a controversial retweet from a West Australian politician.
Darren West, a Labor Party legislative council member of West Australia, retweeted a post critical of former SAS soldier and Liberal Party candidate for the Canning by-election, Andrew Hastle.
In Afghanistan, Mr Hastle commanded soldiers who allegedly removed the hands of dead Taliban fighters, however he has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Defence Force.
Fairfax reported that Mr West tweeted: “A chopper with Bronny in comes in to land & here’s Hastie’s chopper, to chop off your hand!”
He retweeted another post floating “Hands off Canning” as a possible election slogan.
West Australia’s Labor environment spokesman Chris Tallentire also retweeted a controversial tweet, which read: “So #Hastle thinks campaigning for solar is aggressive? Can I have a show of hands on that?”
Speaking to ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday morning, Ms Bishop was scathing of the social media conduct of the politicians, calling for Bill Shorten to “show some leadership” and discipline the MPs.
“For Labor MPs to now ridicule that soldier over the incident, because Andrew Hastie’s not involved, is simply appalling,” Ms Bishop said.
“And Labor wonders why our troops question their commitment when they ridicule a serving SAS soldier, and when Labor cut $16 billion from the Defence budget.
“Now, again, Bill Shorten ought to pull these people into line, show some leadership and tell them that this is just not on.”
Fairfax published the story about the investigation into Mr Hastle’s unit on the front page of its The Saturday Age.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann slammed Fairfax for publishing it, speaking to The Bolt Report on Sunday.
Ms Bishop joined Mr Cormann in questioning the need to run the story, and the conduct of the Labor MPs on Twitter.
“I question the motivation of Fairfax for putting it on the front page when Andrew Hastie was not present,” she said.
“He was not there. He was, in fact, the officer who called for an investigation into the matter.”