Tasmanian senator-elect Jacqui Lambie has compared the Coalition's paid parental leave scheme to eugenics - the discredited social policy associated with Adolf Hitler's Nazi-era attempts to breed a race of ubermenschen, or super humans.
As Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced he would scale back his ambitious paid parental leave scheme from an upper limit of $150,000 to $100,000, blaming the “budget emergency” created by the former Labor government, Ms Lambie accused the government's generous scheme of attempting to discourage poor people from having children.
Eugenics emerged in the 19th century as a "scientific" theory designed to control which people became parents and thereby limit which genes were passed on. It was adopted by the Nazis and used to justify the forced sterilisation of an estimated 400,000 people, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial museum, and the deaths of tens of thousands of people.
"It’s clear that the Liberal’s paid parental leave scheme is a not-so-subtle attempt at discouraging Australians with the undesirable trait of being poor (when compared with those who are rich) from reproducing. Why else would Mr Abbott and his supporters champion a government scheme which ensures rich Australians receive more than double, sometimes triple the amount of parental leave that poor working Australians receive?" she said in a statement.
"The only fair way to administer any government-sanctioned paid parental leave scheme is as per the Palmer United policy - and ensure that all Australian parents and babies are treated equally. Otherwise those championing a government scheme which clearly tries to influence or control who becomes parents – must be associated with eugenics - and all the historic, moral and political baggage attached to this reviled social theory."
"If the Liberals really want to improve Australian society then they should allow our children to access free university degrees and visits to their GPs, not introduce a sly social policy which divides us into rich and poor - and attempts to influence which group reproduces the most."
Ms Lambie, a former soldier, has courted controversy since being elected to the Senate last September.
She has been engaged in a public stoush with her Palmer United Party colleague, Queensland MP Alex Douglas, who suggested she came from "Boganland". Ms Lambie hit back at that criticism, telling her local paper she was from the "underdog world".
She was also investigated by the Tasmanian Electoral Commission for using the unauthorised images of former premier Lara Giddings, Liberal successor Will Hodgman and Greens leader Nick McKim.
The Palmer United Party's leader, Clive Palmer, has previosuly flagged his party would vote against the scheme.