Prime Minister Tony Abbott likened job losses to the Holocaust, speaking in Parliament on Thursday.
During PM’s Question Time, Labor spokesman Brendan O’Connor cited the rising unemployment rate in South Australia, asking Mr Abbott: “Prime Minister, when will good government actually start and the Prime Minister deliver on his promise to build submarines in South Australia?”
Mr Abbott cut straight back, blaming the previous Labor government for a “holocaust” of job losses in the defence sector.
“Under members opposite defence jobs in this country declined by 10 per cent,” Mr Abbott declared.
“There was a holocaust of jobs in defence industries under members opposite.”
The prime minister was no slower to recognise the sensitivity associated with the word than anyone else in the chamber and almost immediately sought to correct himself.
“That’s what there was Madame Speaker, jobs, jobs, jobs, I’m sorry if I, I’m sorry and I withdraw Madame Speaker. There was a decimation of jobs,” he said, as the chamber erupted in howls from the opposition benches.
At the end of Question Time, Mr Abbott again apologised for the remark but not without reaffirming his point.
“I should not have used the word, the term holocaust, I did withdraw it.
“I shouldn’t have used it, I did withdraw it, I do apologise for it.
“Whatever happens with our future submarine contract, there’ll be more jobs for South Australia, that’s the bottom line.”
The parliamentary confrontation came on the same day as the latest monthly job figures which show the Australian unemployment rate has risen to 6.4%, the highest in 12 years.
IMAGE: Tony Abbott in Parliament. (Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)