Over the Christmas break, at a time when the last thing anybody wants to be thinking about is Peter Dutton, he came out with a nasty personal spray against the former prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
One of the things he said about the former PM was that “he (Turnbull) doesn’t have a political bone in his body and it’s not a criticism, but without political judgment you can’t survive in politics and he didn’t.”
Well, actually it is a criticism !
Dutton is a man who knows all about political jockeying, after all he mounted two attempts to unseat a sitting prime minister to install himself as our leader and failed in both. In the first attempt on 21 August last he missed out by 13 votes and maintained after the party-room snub that he is still the “best prospect” to lead the Liberal Party, but said that he will respect the result of the vote and support Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
That, of course was a lie : nobody believed him and sure enough Pete was still doing the numbers three days later when he mounted another challenge. This time he thought he had it all sewn up, having phoned all his mates who naturally pledged their undying support for his leadership. What it seems he didn’t know was that as he was phoning his supporters, Morrison was on call-waiting ready to convince them to vote for him, which is precisely what they did. So, in a deft display of political stupidity, Dutton managed to get the numbers wrong again. In the words of Oscar Wilde you could say that to get the numbers wrong once may be regarded as a misfortune, but to do so twice looks like a diabolical stuff-up !
Ever the optimist, Dutton was reported to have said that despite the loss, he still harboured the ambition to lead the Liberal Party but in the meantime he would give Scott Morrison his unwavering support and undying loyalty : Oh yeah, we’ve heard that one before somewhere !
Dutton quickly assumed his old job under the Morrison administration with barely any criticism for the damage he had inflicted on the Liberal party and the disruption to the orderly functioning of our parliament merely for him to pursue his own self-serving ambitions : he did however lose responsibility for immigration presumably because he had been calling for a reduction in immigration numbers without actually formulating an immigration policy as would normally be expected from somebody purporting to be responsible for immigration.
Then we had the unusual and yet to be explained issue of terrorism suspect Neil Prakash who was born in Australia of a Fijian Australian father and a Cambodean Australian mother. When Prakash was first arrested entering Turkey in 2014 , Julie Bishop as Foreign Minister cancelled his passport which restricted his ability to move around the world and expunged his rights as a citizen to return to Australia. For no apparent reason, Dutton then announced a week ago that he was exercising his ministerial discretion to take away from Prakash his Australian citizenship. It turns out that this was a bungle too as he could not do that. Prakash is not a citizen of Fiji as Dutton maintained and, under our legislation and in accordance with international law, we cannot make a citizen stateless at the whim of a poorly advised minister.
Fiji has confirmed that Prakash is not a citizen of theirs and did not meet the criteria for Fijian citizenship and noted that they were not impressed with an Australian politician trying to pass off a troublesome Australian citizen to a near and friendly neighbour. Dutton has dug in his heels and continues to maintain that he knows more about both Australian citizenship laws and those of Fiji : he doesn’t, he was wrong and he now leaves it to Scott Morrison to go cap-in-hand to Fiji and try to patch up yet another embarrassing blunder by the hapless Dutton.
Interestingly, Australia had an extradition application with Turkey to return Prakash to Australia to face the courts here. Traditionally, common-law jurisdictions like Australia have tended to exercise extra-territorial jurisdiction over their citizens only for very serious crimes. The Prakash case falls into that category. So, Australia could claim jurisdiction over Prakash because he was an Australian citizen, as a country has the ability to prosecute and punish its citizens solely on the basis of their nationality, wherever their alleged offence takes place. But by withdrawing his citizenship Dutton has effectively limited our ability to deal with Prakash by way of extradition processes.
As a wrecking ball, the Liberal Party has no further to look than Dutton. A man who manages to sail under the media radar by rarely making himself available to media scrutiny unless it happens to be a weekly love-in with Ray Hadley on 2GB or a scripted interview on Sky-After-Dark.
Even as the dust was settling over the leadership debacle Dutton declared that he had no regrets about bringing on a week of drama that had split the Liberal Party and halted Parliament. He continued to describe himself as a “better person” and a “person of greater strength and integrity to lead the Liberal Party” than Malcolm Turnbull.
You be the judge !
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