You may have noticed over the last week or so that Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has received quite the image makeover from the propaganda rags in the media. He is trying to present a kinder, gentler image of himself, as well he might. The problem, however, is that his record in government is both recent and extensive. I want to look at an extensive press conference he gave, and specifically at the transcript presented in the Financial Review.
The Press Conference: The Apology, Part One
When asked why he walked out of the Apology to the Stolen Generations, Mr. Dutton offered this in response
I made a mistake in relation to the apology, and largely that was because of my own background and experience.
Many of you have lived out in regional areas and many of you haven’t.
I worked in Townsville. I remember going to many domestic violence instances, particularly involving Indigenous communities, and for me at the time I believed that the apology should be given when the problems were resolved, and the problems are not resolved.
Is he seriously suggesting that he ignored the apology because Indigenous communities still experience problems? The idea that you do not apologise until the problem is fixed is absurd. Indeed, an apology is the first step in solving a problem since it acknowledges that there is one. Also, if your experience and background compels you to walk out on an Apology to generations of mistreated people, you need help.
The Press Conference: The Apology, Part Two
This might cost me a friend or two, but Dutton actually gets close to a point when he says
Going to a meeting here in Canberra and giving 10 acknowledgments to country, that’s fine, and I don’t say that in a disparaging way.
I want to know how it is we’re going to support those kids and how it is we’re going to get higher health outcomes and mortality rates, more kids through university, just to finish primary school and secondary school to start with. That’s the perspective that I bring to it.
He is surprisingly close to the mark when he says that doing Acknowledgements of Country without actually having practical solutions to the problems that exist is hollow. Now of course he had three terms in government to implement those practical solutions, so his criticism itself rings somewhat hollow. But I see his point: Welcome to Country while leaving the underlying problems unaddressed is tokenism. This still does not excuse him from walking out on what was a national acknowledgement of a problem. Shame.
The Press Conference, Part Three: The Teals and The New Government
Asked if the LNP would abandon any of the seats that the Independents won, Dutton gave this amazing response
I’m not giving up on any seat, but I do want to send a very clear message to those in the suburbs, particularly those in seats where there has been a swing against the Labor Party on their primary vote, in many parts of the country.
Dutton is delusional. He does not mention the broader trouncing his party took. Nor does he mention the six LNP seats the Teals won. He has to shift to the Labor party’s decreased primary vote. Your own primary vote also dropped to record lows, but you do not mention that, do you? Hack.
When asked about the new government, the new Opposition Leader said this
There is huge hesitation around Anthony Albanese and whether he is up to the job. People will give him a go, rightly – they voted for him and there will be a honeymoon period, the media will give him that…but people had big doubt about whether they would vote for him and in some cases…the[ir] primary vote went down.
This hesitation around Mr Albanese of which you speak; where did that come from? I cannot put my finger on it. Could it be from you jokers and your media enablers? Talk about manufacturing your own success. You smear your opponent, the media picks it up and then you claim that what was reported in the media is true.
Second, the idea of a ‘honeymoon period’, specifically with the media, is crap. Have you seen the coverage of the new government? Finally, you keep harping on about the ALP’s primary vote dropping. This is not unique to the ALP. Drop this point, Sir, you will lose it!
The Press Conference, Part Four: China and His Own Credentials
Dutton’s response to a question on China was as arrogant as one might expect
I will support policies which help to defend our country, decisions made by the new government in relation to rolling out AUKUS, which was an incredible achievement of the Morrison government, and other policies which will help keep us safe.
So you will support the new government as long as they continue your policies? That is essentially what he said. The phrase ‘policies which help keep us safe’ is best translated as ‘Liberal policies’. While I am not asking him to abandon his party’s policies (as much as I despise them), it is the height of hubris to say ‘we expect the new government to implement our policies despite the people voting against them’. Garbage. You also cannot stop stoking fear, can you? Australia is quite safe, thank you.
The tone-deafness continues when he cites John Howard’s endorsement (from Dutton’s first term) as some sort of credential. That man campaigned for his party in many seats that the party wound up losing. His opinion is not held in high regard. This press conference is a trainwreck so far.
The Press Conference, Part Five: Big Business and Superannuation
When asked about the LNP’s relationship with big business, Dutton came out with this howler
We will have a cordial relationship with big business, and we will work on that, but I think, frankly, a lot of CEOs now are closer to the other parties than the Liberal Party, that is the modern reality.
Priceless. You have a symbiotic and sycophantic relationship with big business you mean. Delusional. But he saved the best for last: CEOs are closer to the other parties than the Liberal Party!? It is actually impressive that he was able to say that with a straight face. You are not the party of the little guy, Spud. You service the big end of town. The gall to claim that CEOs are more aligned with the party of the workers or the more openly redistributive party is gargantuan. Get that garbage outta here!
On using superannuation to buy property, which would sabotage many people’s retirement and bring about a reverse-mortgage policy, Dutton said this
I think on home ownership, if we’d allowed people to access their super five years ago or 15 years ago, 25 years ago – when you see what property prices have done in our country – they’d be sitting on a fortune.
A pathetic post-hoc rationalisation. No more need be said
The Press Conference, Part Six: The Integrity Commission
The deflection and just total crap continues when Mr Dutton was asked about the integrity commission
I believe very much in the transparency. The reason I think it’s more important than ever is that under this Labour government, under the Albanese government, we are going to have a continuation of this unholy alliance with the CFMEU, the ETU, the MUA and the Labor Party.
Mr Dutton does not seem to realise that the federal integrity commission is a non-partisan body. Its purpose is not, like its state counterpart in NSW was originally, to be an LNP dirt unit on the Labor Party. Rather than simply yell at him to ‘SHUT UP’ as I did when I first read that ridiculous statement, focus instead on the utter lack of self-awareness.
You know it used to be said that the LNP was not built for opposition. I disagree completely. The ability to spin a federal body that will, if done correctly, decimate your own party, into something about the government is actually impressive. He is delusional once again, of course, but the mental gymnastics on display here would make professional gymnasts blush.
The Press Conference, Part Seven: The Biloela Family
Asked about calling the Biloela family ‘anchor babies’, a phrase ripped directly from US right-wing immigration rhetoric, Dutton responded with this
There are hundreds of cases where I acted on grounds of compassion in relation to migration policies. The minister of immigration is one of the most difficult jobs in the government…
So, I wish the family well, I have no gripe against the family, and as I said I acted compassionately in hundreds of cases which were not in the media.
A total and complete red-herring. You were not asked about cases where you ‘acted on grounds of compassion’. You were asked specifically about calling those children ‘anchor babies’. But you did not want to answer that question, did you?
On your complaint about Immigration Minister being a tough job, I have two questions. First, if it was so tough, why did you take it on? You could easily have told your leader ‘I do not want this job’ or refused it in some other way. Second, why does ‘strength’ have to manifest as cruelty? Why does being ‘strong’ have to result in just being a d*ck? You do not know what the word compassion means, and you now expect to be taken seriously when you speak about it? Be quiet.
Finally, you acted compassionately in hundreds of cases that were not in the media? So it is the media’s fault that people view you as an anti-immigrant sociopath. Good to know. But there is hypocrisy here that is noteworthy. Does the phrase ‘white South African farmers’ ring a bell? You wanted expedited visas for those people because they experienced violence and persecution. While this is a good idea, it was not applied consistently, and race played a part in why. Get that garbage outta here!
Conclusion: Dutton Dressed as Lamb
I hope that this article has shone some light on the sheer crap that is the media’s attempt to rehabilitate The Dark Lord. As I said in the opening paragraph, his record in government is too recent and too well documented for this to work, but I thought I would add my voice to the chorus of detractors. No matter how much the media tries to create and run with this new Dutton, the people know who he really is. His recent (and central) role in a government so thoroughly rejected in the polls should be too much to overcome, but with our press, one can never be sure.
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