Four years after comparing Tony Abbott to Joseph Goebbels, shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus was outraged when the prime minister used the same comparison in parliament.
Mr Abbott on Thursday labelled Opposition Leader Bill Shorten the “Dr Goebbels of economic policy”, likening him to the Nazi minister for propaganda.
Mr Abbott immediately withdrew the remark, but not before opposition MPs, including the Jewish Mr Dreyfus, erupted in anger.
During a rowdy exchange, Speaker Bronwyn Bishop suspended Mr Dreyfus from the chamber.
As he left the chamber, Mr Dreyfus said Mr Abbott was a “disgusting man”.
When Labor pleaded for his reprieve, government leader of the house Christopher Pyne reminded Ms Bishop that Mr Dreyfus had made a similar Goebbels reference when criticising then opposition leader Mr Abbott’s anti-carbon tax campaign in 2011.
“Leaving aside the Goebbellian cynicism of labelling a scare campaign a `truth campaign’, I think it shows Abbott’s contempt for the Australian electorate,” Mr Dreyfus wrote in an opinion piece for Fairfax Media.
Other Labor figures have also made Goebbels references.
Former treasurer Wayne Swan in 1995 made the comparison with then opposition leader John Howard.
“In recent weeks there has been a Goebbels-type campaign by the leader of the opposition, the member for Bennelong (Mr Howard), and others on his front bench …”
And in 2006, Labor MP Jill Hall said the coalition “have vilified asylum seekers and refugees in a way that would make Goebbels blush”.
Later on Thursday, Jewish Labor MP Michael Danby said all parties, including the opposition, should stop making Nazi references.
“We have had differences in the Australian parliament, rough and tumble hard as you like, lots of jokes, but it’s not appropriate to compare us with the paradigm of evil in politics,” he told Sky News on Thursday.
Mr Danby gave Mr Abbott credit for how he normally handles issues to do with the Jewish community, including increasing security around schools against possible terror attacks.
“The irony is as far as the Jewish community goes, Tony Abbott is a good guy.
“That makes my criticism of him all the more valid – don’t make these comparisons, it’s completely unnecessary for you.”