An Australian political aide apologized for making a political reference to a Nazi camp guard.
Peter Phelps had equated a Labor Party candidate’s military service in Iraq with a Nazi concentration camp guard.
Phelps, the chief of staff to Special Minister of State Gary Nairn, wrote to Col. Mike Kelly on Wednesday to “unreservedly withdraw” his comment during a recent public forum that Kelly’s military service in Iraq was “like the guards at Belsen.”
Phelps was grilling Kelly over his military service because Labor’s policy is to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq if it wins a majority in the upcoming federal election.But in his letter to Kelly, Phelps wrote: “I unreservedly withdraw that comment and regret any offense.”
Kelly, who has close ties to the Jewish community, is running against Nairn in the bellwether electorate of Eden-Monaro south of Sydney, a marginal seat held by the Liberal Party.
Labor’s sole Jewish member of federal parliament, Michael Danby, blasted Phelps’ comments, saying they were “deeply offensive” to Australian Jews as well as Australians who fought in World War II.
“I felt sick to my stomach sitting in federal parliament hearing some of these comparisons,” Danby said.
Since 1972, whichever party has won Eden-Monaro has taken office.