I couldn't let such a blatant insult slide through, so I emailed the Senator and shared my thoughts via the Contact Us form on his official parliamentary web page:
Senator, I am proud supporter of GetUp. I am also a 46 year old woman who works for a company that employs hundreds of workers in the Townsville / Bowen Basin area, and I need you go know that you do not represent me. Your comment likening GetUp to the Hitler youth is a disgusting insult, and GetUp deserves a public apology from you. You are a liability to the LNP and an embarrassment to the Senate.
Pithy, I thought. I felt better, saying what I needed to say, and thought nothing more of it, until today when I received a reply from the Senator's office.
Dear Ms Piracha
Thank you for your email regarding Senator Ian Macdonald's remarks about Get Up.
The Senator apologised in the Senate 3 November 2011. The transcript can be found on Page 91 of Hansard at http://www.aph.gov.au/Hansard/senate/dailys/ds031111.pdf
Office of Senator The Hon. Ian Macdonald
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern & Remote Australia
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Defence Force & Defence Support
131 Denham Street (PO Box 2185) Townsville Qld 4810
T. (07) 4771 3066 | F. (07) 4771 3411
I'd already checked Hansard - there is no way I go firing terse missives at Senators until I've checked my facts. I was aware of the apology, just as I am aware that the apology is specific in it's target: "I want to take this opportunity to unreservedly apologise for any offence taken at my remarks by the Jewish community."
I am not Jewish, yet I was offended - seething, in fact - and it had nothing to do with being Jewish. It was due entirely to the fact that the Senator likened GetUp!, which is a peaceful, self-funded group of volunteer members dedicated to promoting a progressive political agenda, to a regimented group consisting of thousands enlisted teenagers, and infamous as the training ground for the most murderous regime in modern history.
Now I suspect that the Senator's words were prompted by simple frustration that GetUp! has been successful in defeating the efforts of his own political party. Whatever the reason, there is no justification.
The Senator should know better, and should hold himself to a higher standard.
I encourage the Senator to compare his outburst to the behaviour of members of the youth wing of his own party. There was the infamous Nick Sowden and his comparison of President Obama to a monkey. Nick, who is not a Senator, was expelled from the LNP for that.
More recently, Young LNP member Keegan Sard tweeted that "All unionists deserve to die". Despite the violence inherent in this tweet, Keegan is as far as I know, still a member of the party; he acted quickly to apologise for his offensive tweet and delete it.
Maybe soon he'll learn that the Internet never forgets; his tweet was so startling that Twitter users who saw it grabbed screenshots of the tweet, guessing that it would be deleted. Those copies have been saved, and the image of his tweet will shadow his future.
I am not for a moment likening the Young LNP to anything more sinister than a group of enthusiastic young people who lack the good sense to to behave in public, but there is obviously a pattern emerging - one of which Senator MacDonald should be ashamed. He is a senior politican, with 21 years experience in the Senate. He is a leader within the Qld LNP, and I hope, within his community. Havng a tantie on the floor of the senate should not be an option.
And yet, when you look at the behaviour of some members of the Young LNP, it's not hard to see where it comes from.