Queensland’s Labor leader, who is of Polish descent, cried in parliament as the government condemned a colleague’s ‘concentration camps’ speech.
Queensland’s opposition leader has cried in parliament as she recalled her grandfather’s seven years in a Nazi labour camp after giving a qualified apology for a colleague’s controversial Holocaust comparison.
Annastacia Palaszczuk, who is of Polish descent, was under pressure to take responsibility for Labor frontbencher Jo-Ann Miller after she compared fly-in, fly-out accommodation to “mining concentration camps”.
Ms Miller refused to retract her statement, so the government introduced a motion of apology.
During a heated parliamentary debate, Ms Palaszczuk spoke through tears as she recalled the torture her family, from Poland and six million others endured at the hands of the Nazis.
She argued the Liberal National Party, too, had been guilty of causing offence, when a health minister’s adviser described the Nazis as “very admirable people” when he edited a Young Nationals newsletter during the 1990s.
“These were the people that almost killed my grandfather, who also made my grandmother … ,” she sobbed.
“I can’t believe that people on this side of the house ….”
Ms Palaszczuk said Ms Miller’s comments were regrettable, but merely conveyed the thoughts of miners.
“I have no problem with apologising for anyone who has taken offence.”
Ms Miller defended her comments in a radio interview, while the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union is voicing support for the embattled MP.
Government minister David Crisafulli made a totalitarian reference of his own, by arguing Queensland working conditions would always be superior to those in a former Soviet regime.
“We are not communist Russia. We are a free society,” he told reporters.
During question time, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman unfavourably compared Ms Palaszczuk with her father Henry, a Beattie government minister.
In January 2005, Mr Palaszczuk asked the Speaker to withdraw his ministerial oath of allegiance to the Queen after Prince Harry wore a Nazi uniform to a costume party.
“Her father took a stand on a matter of principle, he showed ticker,” Mr Newman said.
The opposition has accused the government of using Ms Miller’s comments as a diversionary tactic, ahead of a parliamentary debate on legislation to increase, from $1000 to $12,400, the threshold for political donation declarations.
The LNP motion condemning Ms Miller passed.