Peter Dutton has finally become the leader of something. It is a disorganised rabble, but I am sure he is thrilled. Opposition Leader, and he is already talking about swooping in and fixing Labor’s “inevitable mess” in 2025. This is truly delusional, and uncoupled from reality.
It is as if the last nine years never happened. Labor has been in government for a couple of weeks, and they better fix whatever has gone wrong, and quickly. Memo to the Libs: Be ashamed at where a once great party has ended up, with life-long Liberals voting “anything but Liberals”.
They will pile on to the “burn Morrison at the stake” moment, but Morrison led a party of men, and women, who had abrogated their sacred duty to serve the people of Australia.
Instead they indulged in class politics, climate vandalism, social regression, barely concealed racism, transphobic vilification, anti-intellectualism, and conspicuous corruption. The environment is reeling, the word “green” had become a term of abuse, the disabled and the poor have been routinely pursued through the courts.
The tragedy for Australia is that Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is led by a person who has built his entire reputation on just such a public persona.
Everything Morrison, Joyce, Dutton and Frydenberg did for the last period of government has been either shoddy, dishonest, socially regressive, elitist and or reactionary. I cannot think of one (positive) achievement they could boast of. There are plenty of negatives, but as they say, the vibe has changed.
They tortured the refugees until it became politically embarrassing to keep them locked up, and they were secretly released, with no supports in place.
The Biloela family have finally been repatriated home, and we can blame Morrison, Dutton and Alex Hawke in equal parts for their misery. All duck-shovers and gas lighters. Memo: the reason everyone loathed your time in office was because of such tactics.
Peter Dutton has had a variable time this year. His win in a defamation case, against Shane Bazzi, an unemployed refugee advocate, was set aside by appeal. Bazzi had called Dutton a “rape apologist”.
Mr Bazzi was responding to a statement Mr Dutton had made in 2019. His tweet linked to a Guardian article where Dutton made the claim that rape victims on Nauru were fabricating their claims.
Mr Bazzi used Twitter to make his comment. I suspect that many Twitter readers agreed with his comment, but that is not a defence. It depends on what you feel the word “apologist” means.
And then there is the flawed Australian Defamation Law, where the judge decides what the reader probably imputed from your statement. So you are not judged on what you said, but on what someone else decided you meant to say.
Even Christian Porter wanted to change that aspect of the law, before commencing on his own doomed legal adventures. What can you expect from a government which refused to cease the incarceration of children as young as ten, and which allowed a whistleblower’s lawyer to be tried secretly, because he acted on behalf of the man who blew the whistle on Australia’s security services, for acting unlawfully.
Although it is clear no-one in the coalition has ever heard of Franz Kafka, it should be government policy to only employ people who have read “The Trial.”
“Some people are trying it on,” he said. “Let’s be serious about this. There are people who have claimed that they’ve been raped and came to Australia to seek an abortion because they couldn’t get an abortion on Nauru.
They arrived in Australia and then decided they were not going to have an abortion. They have the baby here and the moment they step off the plane their lawyers lodge papers in the federal court, which injuncts us from sending them back.”
The same day the tweet was posted, Mr Dutton had said he was unaware of the “she said, he said” details of Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations.
Ms Higgins was claiming she had been raped. Her alleged assailant was not claiming to have been raped, and so there was no moral equivalence.
Those words are ‘police-speak’; formulaic, dismissive and designed to cast equal weight onto the male-female narrative scales. So you would have to be pre-literate to miss the misogynistic framing of that disclaimer. His language speaks to a generation of men who are not interested in fairness, or change.
Peter Dutton was a Minister in Scott Morrison’s Government. Shane Bazzi is unemployed, and his defamation defence was crowd funded. He advocates for refugees. In an ironic sense, Shane Bazzi’s family has itself been ‘defamed’ by Dutton, as he is descended from the Lebanese migrants who arrived in the 1970s. Dutton has pronounced them as irretrievably criminal, and he has the computations to ‘prove’ it.
The problem with Dutton’s public pronouncements is that so many of them are just wrong, or without evidence, or just another way of drawing attention to himself. Many of them are offensive, and many set up ‘straw men’ for the public to fear and loathe.
Paedophiles and pacifists are two groups he targets, and the Chinese Communists are an old standby. “Lefties and greenies’, possibly transgender folk, it is not too hard to fall foul of this man.
He voted against same sex marriage, and he did walk out of the Stolen Generations apology, so he has many unpopular and reactionary opinions, publicly stated, which he will need to reverse, if he is to reinvent himself.
Some can be interpreted as ‘dog whistling’, such as when he demonises refugees, or Muslims, even African gangs. On a more absurd note, he did want to assist white South African farmers in fleeing their own country, because of perceived racial prejudice against them. You cannot make that stuff up.
Dutton, now that he is the leader, will presumably want to project a friendlier face, but his appearances so far suggest that he is incapable, or merely unwilling, to work for Australia, rather than fighting to tear down a Labor government, which has had exactly zero time to settle in.
I think he will find inner Sydney and Melbourne harder to convince of his bona fides. He didn’t exactly cover himself in glory when his first thought, upon taking over Defence, was to cancel funding for “woke morning teas”, where defence force members dress in rainbow colours to signal the department is welcoming towards LGBT members, and possible recruits.
Peter Dutton has recently floated the idea of taxpayers bearing the cost of politicians’ defamation cases, seeing it as a ‘workplace entitlement’. We must remember he is the minister who gave a half billion dollars to Paladin, a company with a shed on a beach for an office. Dutton has got a long row to hoe, if anyone is ever going to like him, let alone vote for him. His wife said recently, “He is not a monster.” Let’s go with that thought.