Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 7 May 2008) . . Page.. 1559 ..
to time and one which I think is particularly important to those in positions of power over others. It is therefore important to recognise this event each year on Holocaust Remembrance Day and to ensure that it is etched forever in the consciousness of the public, so as to remain vigilant that such crimes will never be repeated.
This lesson is especially important for politicians, and not just for the Jewish people—and I know that Ms MacDonald is part of that faith. It is important for all politicians because the events of the Holocaust and the crimes of totalitarian governments throughout much of the 20th century are an instructive lesson in the true meaning of government power. Events such as this show us the extreme dangers that await us when we allow extreme political power to be vested in a government. It shows the horrifying things that people possessed of political power will do to pursue their ideology.
History records exactly what happens when a totalitarian ideology takes hold of a government and its people and when the people in power pursue their visions of the world without regard for the lives they trample on. In the case of the Holocaust, this led to the murder of many millions of innocent people and the despicable treatment of countless others. Estimates of the number of victims in the Holocaust vary because of the lack of records kept of many of the victims. Most historians, however, put the number of Jewish victims at around six million people.
However, Jews were not the only victims of the Nazi atrocities. Many other groups in Europe also suffered severe casualties. Around two to three million Soviet prisoners of war are estimated to have been killed by the Nazi regime. Others included around two million ethnic Poles, 500,000 ethnic Serbs, 200,000 to 500,000 Romas, 250,000 disabled people, 80,000 to 200,000 Freemasons, 5,000 to 15,000 gay men and 2½ thousand to 5,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses. While not subject to systematic extermination, it is also estimated that around five million Christians were also killed by the Nazi regime. Many were killed for their resistance to the regime and its policies. These numbers are truly staggering and it is difficult to comprehend the sheer volume of the crimes of the regime. As another prolific mass murderer callously put it, “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.”
In Australia, we enjoy a much safer environment with governments which are held in check by the vigilance of our people. There is currently no danger of totalitarian power or such large-scale murder as occurred under the Nazi regime. However, we must always remember that this could once also be said of Germany before the Holocaust. There was a time, particularly in the late 19th century and the early 20th century, when the crimes of the Holocaust would have been unthinkable to many Germans who nevertheless actively pursued an ideology of investing their government with greater and greater power and authority over their lives. This was a period in which totalitarian government and invasive central planning was a highly respected ideology throughout Germany, and indeed much of Europe.
MR SPEAKER: I want to clarify something I said earlier in relation to a point of order raised by Mr Mulcahy which went to the issue of contempt. Contempt matters