It takes a pretty screwed up world for there to even be rumours of Peter Dutton being touted as a future leader.
We could talk about his dismal failure as a Health Minister, rated by the industry as the worst ever, or his failure as Immigration Minister to find any solution for the poor souls stuck on Manus and Nauru.
We could talk about his many gaffes, joking about islands being inundated or misdirecting a profane text supporting a disgraced minister to the journalist he was abusing.
We could talk about him sending a pregnant rape victim back to Nauru without counselling.
We could talk about his abuse of Sarah Hansen-Young about her claim that she was spied on, which turned out to be true, or his vilification of Gillian Triggs for doing her job.
We could talk about his statement that “Illiterate and innumerate” refugees would take Australian jobs at the same time as saying they would “languish” on the dole and use free health services provided by Medicare.
Or how he told parliament that Fraser made a mistake allowing Lebanese people to come here in the 70s as most terrorist-related offences are committed by their kids and grandkids.
We could talk about how he walked out of the chamber during the Stolen Generations Apology.
But today, I want to discuss his views on political correctness.
Dutton, like so many others of his ilk, talks repeatedly about “political correctness gone mad”. He seems to feel that people’s right to be critical is being curtailed, but only if they agree with him. People who disagree should hush.
As part of his annual pre-Christmas rant about carols being banned in schools – they haven’t been – he lambasted the political correctness of “left wing teachers.”
When teachers in NSW and Victoria wore t-shirts protesting Australia’s offshore detention camps for asylum seekers, Dutton said “If they want to conduct these sort of campaigns, do it online or do it in your spare time. Don’t bring these sort of views into the minds of young kids.”
A teacher’s job is to foster critical thinking. It is crucial that the next generation be encouraged to consider the issues that they will soon be facing both as voters and as our future leaders. To suggest that political issues should never be discussed is ridiculous. I am certain Dutton would be more than happy for us to spend months talking about Menzies.
Teachers see first-hand the damage done by the divisive rhetoric of politicians like Dutton, Hanson and Christensen. They understand the importance of inclusion and a feeling of self-worth, of safety, of hope for the future. If Dutton thinks his words and actions, and the hatred they have unleashed, aren’t already in “the minds of young kids”, he is badly mistaken.
The same applies to the marriage equality debate and the Safe Schools program.
The message being sent to young people is that homosexuality is perverted.
The hysteria about the Safe Schools anti-bullying program sent a clear message that gender and sexuality are not issues that should ever be discussed in schools and anyone who did not conform with the “traditional” norms was indulging in deviant thoughts and behaviour which must be ignored.
This ostrich approach completely ignores the bullying and terrible suicide rate of young people which led teachers to ask for resources to be developed to help them deal with the tragedy they were witnessing.
The debate about marriage equality has hit the farcical position where Peter Dutton, that warrior against political correctness, is now telling us that, if we want to express a view about marriage equality, we should go into politics.
When more than 30 high-profile company executives joined together to sign a letter publicly urging the government to legislate for same-sex marriage, Dutton responded by saying publicly listed companies shouldn’t take political stances and business leaders should not prioritise debating moral issues over running their companies.
He said if chief executives want to debate moral issues they should quit business and seek election.
“If you want to become a politician, resign your job at $5 million a year, come on to $250,000, if they can tolerate that, and enter the political debate.”
“Become a politician.”
“This is a big problem for our country because if you have people who are afraid to speak out or afraid to remain neutral and I suspect some of these business leaders… are in that category,” Mr Dutton said.
The executives who signed the letter included Business Council of Australia chair Jennifer Westacott, Qantas boss Alan Joyce, Deloitte’s Cindy Hook, Commonwealth Bank chief Ian Narev, Australian Super chair Heather Ridout and KPMG’s Peter Nash. Somehow I doubt these people have been intimidated into expressing their view.
“Some of these businesses are concerned that if they don’t sign up that they will be subject to a campaign which will be run online by GetUp! and others… and that is going to impact on their business. I don’t know how we can tolerate that position.”
Or perhaps they think that this discrimination is detrimental to their employees and business. Or maybe they are using their public profile to right a wrong. Did that ever occur to you Peter?
According to Dutton, anyone who disagrees with his opinion must have been coerced, or, at the very least, they should just keep their opinions to themselves because they aren’t politicians.
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