NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet shocked the state and his colleagues yesterday by admitting that he had dressed as a Nazi at his 21st birthday party — but some in government fear there is worse to come.
Whispers of a photograph capturing the incident had been circulating for weeks, including on an anonymous gossip Twitter account that posted about rumours of a “damaging” picture as early as January 2.
Perrottet told reporters on Friday morning he didn’t know if there was a picture: “I’m not aware of a photograph. I’m not aware of one, if it exists. It’s not about that, it’s about the fact that I did it, and that I’m truly sorry for the mistake I made.”
Senior Liberal sources told Crikey the premier decided to speak about the incident after Transport Minister David Elliott brought it up with him in a recent conversation. Elliott’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
One Liberal source said that although they didn’t want to downplay the seriousness of what Perrottet had done, they hoped voters would judge the party on its merits when they go to the polls on March 25 rather than “having an election over what Dom did at 21”.
The source said they hadn’t seen the rumoured picture and acknowledged it could cause even more damage to the party if it did emerge.
The Twitter account that mentioned a photograph on January 2 followed up three days later with a post claiming the party had “serious concern” it would damage reputations if a picture became public before the election. The tweet didn’t mention any names or what specifically the picture depicted.
After Perrottet’s admission on Thursday, the people or person behind the account tweeted again, indicating they had seen the picture and that there were other prominent people in it. Perrottet was asked at his press conference on Friday morning if other Liberals were present during the birthday party and said he didn’t remember.
“It’s not about other people,” he said. “No one was involved. I was involved. It was me. I made a terrible mistake.”
Perrottet contacted Jewish leaders before making his admission public and met with the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies at the Sydney Jewish Museum afterwards.
Board of Deputies chief executive Darren Bark and president David Ossip said in a joint statement they appreciated that Perrottet had contacted them personally to apologise.
“The premier has been a staunch supporter and friend of the Jewish community throughout his time in public life, in particular as treasurer he ensured the Sydney Jewish Museum received funding to ensure that it could continue educating the community about the Holocaust and the horrors of the Nazi era,” they said.
“Nazi symbolism is not to be taken lightly and dressing as a Nazi is not a joke … The premier has acknowledged this, recognising that wearing the costume was offensive and will distress many in our community.”
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