On Friday, Phil Coorey published an article in the AFR lauding the credentials of Peter Dutton as a future Prime Minister.
He quotes an unnamed Liberal colleague (but factional opponent) as saying “Everyone listens when Peter intervenes. He’s the closest to a statesman we have.”
If any statement has shown how much trouble the Liberal Party is in, it’s that one.
Peter Dutton? A statesman?
According to Wikipedia, “A statesman or stateswoman is usually a politician, diplomat or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career at the national or international level.”
Dutton has been in parliament for almost 17 and a half years so I guess you could call his career long, but respected? For what?
After joining the Young Liberals and purchasing his first property at age 18, Peter Dutton first ran for parliament in the 1989 Queensland state election, less than a month after his 19th birthday. He lost the 2PP vote 72.5% to 27.5%.
The next year, Dutton graduated from the Queensland police academy and then spent nine years as a police officer in a force reeling from corruption scandals whilst also “working” with his father in a building business – a business that operated under several different names and which continues to operate today.
He married in 1993 but it only lasted a few months.
On leaving the police in 1999, he completed a Bachelor of Business at the Queensland University of Technology before (or during) being elected to federal parliament in 2001 at age 30. During the campaign, his Labor opponent Cheryl Kernot suggested that journalists should question why Dutton quit the police force when he did. That question was never answered.
The next year he had a child out of wedlock and the year after that he married his current wife.
The following year, 2004, he was made Minister for Workforce Participation in the Howard government, a position he held until 2006 spanning the period of the development of the Workchoices legislation.
In January 2006 he was appointed Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Revenue and was questioned by Labor about a conflict of interest regarding childcare rebate legislation when his company owned several childcare businesses.
That year, he was also questioned about a 7-day trip he and his wife took to the US for which he claimed $75,000.
In 2008, Dutton chose to boycott the apology to the stolen generation because, in his opinion, it was meaningless symbolism.
As shadow health minister, he was completely silent. When he became Minister, the medical profession voted him the worst in 35 years.
Dutton’s time as Immigration Minister has been no better.
His bullying of women like Gillian Triggs, Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Sarah Hanson-Young has been shameful. He also called journalist Samantha Maiden a “mad fucking witch”.
He was caught on a microphone laughingly joking about Pacific islands being inundated, and how they must be running on “Cape York time” as a reason a meeting was delayed.
He has refused medical assistance to suicidal children, lied about the cause of disturbances on Manus, and been singularly unsuccessful in finding resettlement options for the people stuck in detention camps. He denies any responsibility for the refugees he has incarcerated offshore despite countless UN and legal directions that he has a duty of care that is not being met, resulting in many successful compensation claims.
The men he chose to command his new paramilitary Border Force both left in disgrace after having affairs with junior staff.
He uses his position to grant wishes as he pleases. On the basis of a phone call from a member of the public, he overturned a court decision and had a man immediately taken into custody for deportation. He ignored his own department’s advice, granting visas on two separate occasions to young women who arrived illegally to work as au pairs even though one was a repeat offender. He refuses to say who the women were working for or who contacted him to overrule the Immigration authorities.
He has offended the South African government by offering asylum in a “civilised” country to white South African farmers. He has been ridiculed by Melbournians after he claimed they were too scared to go out to dinner because of violence from “African gangs”.
Dutton’s department has been the subject of several scathing reports from the National Auditor with a lack of leadership, communication and accountability being blamed for poor workplace practices and outcomes.
Meanwhile Peter has been collecting investment properties, 6 so far, as well as having a family trust, a self-managed super fund, and interests in the building business and a childcare centre.
Interestingly, Peter’s great-great-grandfather was also a Queensland politician.
In 1887, the Queensland Figaro reported of Charles Boydell Dutton:
He knew he had “no case” so he “abused the other side”. He is a fool for his pains. He has made his Press opponents laugh at his helpless rage, and he has made those pressmen who excused and shielded him turn angry at his base ingratitude.
The same newspaper in 1884 described Charles as a “squatter of the squatters” and “an out and out Tory in the guise of a Liberal – a wolf in the guise of a lamb…”
Then again in 1887:
If he isn’t an idiot himself, he must fancy that the average elector is a born fool, or he would not attempt to gull him with such transparent rot as that with which he dosed the people at the Ipswich Show banquet.
It seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It’s a pity our current journalists are not as astutely critical as their predecessors.
If this heartless, misogynistic, racist, lying, self-aggrandising buffoon is the best the Liberal Party has to offer, then they really need to overhaul their preselection process.
A long career sucking on the public teat does not make Dutton a statesman, just a conniving powerbroker whose only concern is his own enrichment.