Liberal MP Andrew Hastie has found himself at the centre of a political firestorm in recent days as a result of wading into the delicate issue of China's growing influence and ambitions.
His unfortunate referencing of the Maginot line, and France's failure to recognise the threat posed by Germany's mechanised divisions in the late 1930s, sabotaged an intelligent and well expressed articulation of the challenge China's changing capabilities and circumstances pose to the west.
Hastie was drawing an analogy between the complex of fortifications along France's eastern frontier with Germany, and the view, long held by many western pundits, that China's rise to prosperity would be accompanied by a transition to democracy and a commitment to the international "rules based order".
He argued that article of faith is just as misguided as France's reliance on its chain of fortresses. It was a fair analogy for a Duntroon graduate and former SAS captain to make. Unfortunately, outside of military circles, anything that smacks of a comparison with the Nazis or the Fascists is a no-go. That goes double and triple once you cross over into the diplomatic sphere.
As a result Hastie found himself in the centre of a firestorm over whether or not he had just called the current Chinese leadership a group of Nazis. It hasn't done much for Australia China relations, which are already delicate given our fraught position between the world's two largest economies in Donald Trump's trade war, or the advancement of his own cause, either.
The member for Canning was making the point that just as the Germans had outflanked the French by sending their tanks through the Ardennes, the Chinese are already outflanking Australia and the west with their evolving technological, economic and political mobility.
The middle kingdom's "Belt and Road" initiative has been rolled out in 68 countries to date. China has also become a major aid player in the Pacific, threatening Australia and New Zealand's traditional leadership role in the region and is making aggressive noises over the South China Sea.
Our security agencies are so concerned about the close relationship between Chinese businesses such as Huawei and the communist regime they are strongly opposed to that company having any involvement with our 5G roll out. Questions also continue to be asked about the wisdom of leasing Port Darwin to Chinese interests.
The interesting thing is that despite the way in which he has been verballed by large sections of the twitterati and the commentariat, Hastie has received significant support.
His original remarks were made in his capacity as the chair of the parliamentary committee on intelligence and security.
The committee's deputy chair, Labor's Anthony Byrne, appeared to join ranks with Hastie yesterday, saying parliament "shared" his concerns about Chinese interference in Australian politics.
Byrne also took a swing at Trade Minister, Simon Birmingham, who had very publicly slapped Mr Hastie down over his remarks on Sunday, suggesting back benchers should refrain from commenting on "sensitive foreign policy matters".
"Our intelligence agencies are saying... we're facing an unprecedented level of attempts to subvert our democracy through foreign interference," the Labor MP said.
That is the challenge Hastie wants Australians, and their leaders, to face up to. It is an issue that needs to be discussed. It is unfortunate that a poor choice of words has undermined his message.