Dominic Perrottet says he’s not aware of any photos of him wearing a Nazi uniform on his 21st birthday, and he doesn’t plan to hold a Liberal party chamber meeting about his leadership.
The front rows were backed by Brad Hazzard and Victor Dominello on Friday, as the New South Wales premiere once again apologized for wearing the costume 19 years ago. This comes a day after he disclosed the matter after receiving a phone call from the transportation minister, David Elliot, about the issue earlier this week.
Elliott told Perrottet on Tuesday night that “someone was planning to use this against him”, the senior minister said on Thursday.
When Perrottet was asked whether he believed his opponents planned to post a photo of him ahead of the March poll for maximum impact as punishment for his stance on pokies or his involvement in tough primary battles, he said it was “not about that.”
Related: ‘I’m embarrassed’: NSW prime minister Dominic Perrottet reveals he’s wearing a Nazi uniform on his 21st birthday
“This is about a mistake I made, and I did,” he said on Friday.
“I don’t care about other comments around it. I’m really sorry for the mistake I made.”
He insisted that he can’t remember if other current Liberal MPs were present at the birthday party, that it was “not related to this” and that “no one was involved”.
“I got involved. That was me. I made a terrible mistake,” he said.
“I don’t know about the photo.”
The Prime Minister met with members of the Jewish community, including the Council of Jewish Representatives and their leaders, at the Jewish Museum on Thursday afternoon.
He said he hopes his mistake will remind people of the need for continued education about the Holocaust.
Outgoing ministers Hazzard and Dominello praised the prime minister for his leadership throughout the epidemic.
Dominello said he was “definitely back.”[ed] Come on”.
“The Prime Minister took ownership, he apologized for it, and I accept that he apologized.”
He added that he was an “extraordinarily good prime minister”.
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Peter Wertheim, co-chairman of the Peak Jewish Body of the Executive Council of Australian Judaism, said on Friday that the prime minister’s costume was “ignorant and insensitive”, but that his apology was “true” and he believed the community would accept it.
Perrottet, 40, apologized on Thursday for the “stupid” decision, which he said had “personally suffered” for much of his life.
“I was not the person I am today when I was 21,” he said. “The person I am today was shaped not by the mistakes I made, but by the good things I did in my life.”
The shocking announcement couldn’t have come at a worse time for the government, which is battling for a fourth term in state elections in March.
Elliott did not respond to phone calls and messages from the Guardian on Thursday, but told Seven News that he called the prime minister on Tuesday and warned that “everyone knows about the costume”.
Elliott reportedly told Seven that “political opponents knew about the costume and that everyone, including the prime minister’s own staff, had heard rumors that someone was planning to use the suit against him.”
Seven reported that Elliott made the phone call after he accused members of the prime minister’s team of leaking a story about his son working for a gambling company.
This story emerged after Elliott questioned the cashless gambling card put forward by Perrottet prior to the election.
The prime minister insisted that the cabinet minister’s call was not a threat, but said it prompted him to reveal that he was wearing the suit.
“I needed this truth to be told by me, not someone else, about this terrible mistake I made,” he said on Thursday.
Senior Liberal sources said a suggestion was circulated that a photo existed by disgruntled members of Perrottet’s own right-wing faction.
“I would say we are not,” said a senior moderate. “We actually want to win this election, but obviously some people are more interested in chasing little personal vendettas.”
Party insiders were particularly concerned about seats in Sydney’s large Jewish eastern suburbs, where the government faced formidable rivals.
Related: NSW becomes second state to ban Nazi flag and symbols
Vaucluse’s independent candidate, Karen Freyer, said the prime minister’s decision to wear the costume was inexcusable.
“As a child of a Shoah survivor [Holocaust]”Wearing a Nazi uniform is neither fun nor funny,” he said.
Former NSW Labor Party prime minister Bob Carr declared Perrottet “unelected” after his confession.
“Will the Jewish leadership insist on his resignation? They should,” he said on social media. “The memory of 6 million requires it. He has to go.”
Despite the risk of the photo hurting the Coalition’s chances for re-election, some of the party’s senior figures insisted Perrottet enjoyed their support.
These include Matt Kean, treasurer and most senior member of the rival moderate group, who sided with Perrottet at Thursday’s press conference, and multicultural minister Mark Coure.
Jewish groups have expressed shock at the revelation, as the NSW Jewish Board of Trustees leadership said it was “a lesson for all”.