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Byron Shire
July 20, 2024

Can Peter Dutton win the next election?

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A long term fixture on the Canberra landscape? Cloudcatcher Media.

For a guy who looks like a Bond villain and has only one, deeply divisive policy, Peter Dutton has been riding high in certain opinion polls lately. Does the collective wisdom that he is unelectable need to be revisited?

With the Liberals apparently abandoning most of the leafy, now teal electorates in their slide to the nuclear right, the new strategy is to target Labor seats on slim margins in places like Gilmore and Robertson in NSW, and Lyons in Tasmania; outer suburbs and regional areas hit hard by the cost of living crisis.

Can the battlers who bucked Albo over the Voice be persuaded to chuck the ALP altogether? Similar strategies have succeeded in the UK and the USA, with working people voting against their own interests for various strange reasons, although normally a charismatic showman is required to pull this trick off, and that’s not the current Australian opposition leader by a long shot.

The thing about Peter Dutton is that he always wanted to be a politician, but he’s an oddity in his own party, which is mostly composed of lawyers and bankers. He joined the Young Liberals as a teenager, and only became a police officer after his bid for the Queensland state seat of Lytton was unsuccessful.

For a time he was a detective in the Brisbane drug and sex offenders squad (which appears to have contributed to his jaundiced view of human nature), before a lucrative period spent flipping rundown properties into childcare centres, amongst other successful real estate investments.

Peter Dutton becomes Minister for Immigration, with (then) PM Tony Abbott and (then) Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo from http://www.peterdutton.com.au.

Going large

Dutton found his way into federal politics in 2001, snapping up Cheryl Kernot’s seat of Dickson in outer Brisbane after she dallied with Labor and paid the price.

He’s learned from the successes and failures of his mentors, particularly John Howard and Tony Abbott, and survived the fallout from the ScoMo meteor.

Reportedly a lovely guy in person, politically Peter Dutton has proven himself to be a brutal operator. He has repeatedly sought to elevate his own political position by attacks on minorities, including African immigrants, Lebanese refugees and Aboriginal people. He walked out of Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations and pushed the boundaries of international law in his treatment of asylum seekers as Home Affairs Minister.

Dutton is also capable of surprises, such as his support for gay marriage a few years ago, and more recently for Julian Assange.

Although he holds his own seat by a fairly narrow margin, for an opposition leader, GetUp’s previous attempts to unseat him have backfired, and he’s not as vulnerable to changing demographics as John Howard was in Bennelong, for example. Queenslanders are different, after all.

Rumours of incompetence as best, and corruption at worst, such as the mysterious circumstances of his leaving the police, and Dutton’s role in the $532 million contract awarded to the contractor Paladin while he was a minister (an organisation at the time headquartered in a shack on Kangaroo Island), have failed to amount to anything substantial, so far.

Dodgy visas for au pairs and jokes about rising sea levels engulfing Pacific nations have already been forgotten.

Mashed potato Australia
Australia, mashed. Cloudcatcher Media.

Give Dutts a chance

With the predictable aid of the Murdoch and Nine media, the public appear willing to give Peter Dutton the benefit of the doubt.

As a result, Labor are going to have to deal with him, either by sinking to his level, or offering a shining alternative.

Dutton has proven his ability to outflank Anthony Albanese on several occasions, particularly via his cynical use of culture war techniques imported from the US.

Not being Scott Morrison isn’t an election strategy that’s going to work for Albo again, and while there’s much to worry about in Dutton’s public and private statements over the years, the voters he’s targeting now have had bigger things to worry about recently, such as spiralling interest rates and the rising cost of everything. If Labor can be blamed for all this, the other mob may get a go sooner rather than later.

As a result, while it remains mercifully unlikely, the extraordinary answer appears to be that yes, Peter Dutton can win the next election.

David Lowe
David Lowe. Photo Tree Faerie.

Originally from Canberra, David Lowe is an award-winning film-maker, writer and photographer with particular interests in the environment and politics. He’s known for his campaigning work with Cloudcatcher Media.

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  1. We can only hope not, surely a decade of LNP mismanagement (in which Ditton was instrumental in damaging democracy) was enough.
    We don’t need yet another extreme right wing government epitomising the adage “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch.”
    No viable or ethical policies, an abundance of arrogance and support of the greed rich is just what we don’t need. Improved education so that people can see Dutton for what he is is essential.

      • Why don’t you “google it”, instead of always asking other people to explain things to you like your incapable of basic 6th grade education comprehension?
        Probably the best example of the extreme rightwing? The point blank refusal to learn anything outside of their self imposed bubble world sheltered workshop of plausible deniability. “I don’t want to hear that”?
        They prefer the Murdoch void of “alternate facts”, delivered up to them 24/7 by the corrupted extreme rightwing media. That so desperately keeps Duttons leftovers afloat instead of them drowning in a sea of facts.
        All bankrolled by the insatiably greedy coal mining billionaires, that profit so much from extreme rightwing politics and media.
        Dutton’s extreme rightwing LNP/Media, bankrolled by Coal are fighting for their very lives, it’s really an LNP/Coal extinction event we are witnessing, they are at war with the Australian commonwealth and the rest of the democratic world. All you, the voter have to do is decide who’s side you’re on?
        We have almost instant fact checks, but our media refuse to do it, we could have a show on TV called, “Fact Check” but thats not permitted, why?
        They prefer to deliver up the blanket extreme rightwing coal mining bankrolled distraction, misinformation and disinformation, you have to ask why? Is it the simple reason the media has sold out, because coal simply pays more?

        • Tweed the hypocrite of hypocrites !
          You constantly Pile-on about how
          The Murdoch media is toxic etc..
          Misinformation disinformation
          Yep you provide F Zero evidence ?
          Just one example from Australian
          Sky News Tweed where they have misinformed viewers ? All you have
          Is your small mind far left rants about
          Murdoch/ Dutton how they have and will
          Destroy democracy…unlike the ABC
          SKY are a shareholder company…so yeah they can be as bias as they like…at least
          SKY Australia overall have employees
          Who support both Labor & the Coalition
          The ABC have Zero conservative presenter’s
          Zero impartial reporter’s/ journalists
          Who are meant to report the facts not
          Form opinions…the sooner they are
          Pay per view the better..and you !

          • Lizardbreath how do i know who the ABC reporters support ? 🤔 please ..! Hypothetical !
            To obtain employment at the ABC
            You certainly have to be conservative free..
            What ? In a interview for employment
            Opportunities at the ABC ..and you suggest
            Iam a very impartial reporter ..and
            Incidentally i support the coalition
            And that being peter Dutton..and some of his policies…what chance has this person got
            To gain employment at the ABC ..
            Lizardbreath ? Seriously…

          • Seriously Barrow, tell us – what evidence do you have of this? It can be a matter of perceptions you know. Sometimes objective and fact-based reporting can look “left-wing” to those used to a diet of News limited.

            But give us some substance rather than bald assertions.

  2. We, and the whole world, sure don’t need the bargain with the devil that is nuclear power. Washington State has huge amounts of radioactive material, some of which was dumped in the ocean for a while. When those drums rot the stuff will remain radioactive for hundreds of years.

    It is pretty telling that no one is willing to insure nuclear reactors. The risks and possible damage are too high. Apart from Chernobyl, there have been a few near meltdowns in the US alone: Harper’s Ferry Alabama and Three Mile Island. Human error is a constant threat. There’s one in California built on the San Andreas fault line. They first installed it in backwards.

  3. In 2024 with the explosion of social media, politics has sadly descended into a cesspool of misinformation and outright lies, hence the leakage of votes away from the major parties to Independents. When well financed stakeholders assemble their considerable resources and mount campaigns to achieve their goals anything is possible. Historically first term Govts do get re-elected, and the fact that the Albanese Govt has managed to maintain a lead in the polls under enormous attacks from the Coalition over the cost of living crisis, housing crisis, stubborn inflation and the transition to renewable energy, all major issues affecting Aussie voters, is very encouraging for the Govt. But anything is possible in todays world and the last thing the Labor Govt needs is the constant undermining and sniping from the left in the form of the opportunistic Greens. We have painfully learnt by past mistakes that when big change is undertaken the voters must be taken along and definitely must not be alienated, what has already been achieved must not again be lost.

    • Keith in all seriousness..yes both major parties
      Are slipping…and it’s not so much in pushing
      The blame game at the greens..they are a bunch
      Of “obstructionist” always will be ..! But mate
      Albo ought to lift his game Keith..because regardless of what you think . Or how well the Labor have done thus far. The Majority i have spoken to will not be voting back in labor or the coalition Keith.. what next ?

      • Thanks for the input Mr Barrow, I will see if I can put things right. You are wrong about the Greens though, they have evolved into a party that has one goal in mind, and that is to pinch as many seats off Labor as possible and try and force a coalition Govt, with scant regard for the consequences. That is not going to happen, we have learnt our lessons on that one, Julia Gillard learnt the hard way, and we are still paying the price for the last Labor/Greens Govt in Tasmania that did not end well. As I said politics is not getting any easier in this modern world.

    • Keith, Keith, Keith, wake up for once.
      Lab and LibNat have massive $’swar chests. If they were doing a stonking great job they wouldn’t be bleeding out votes like they have been at successive elections. Your ALP mob are a shambles. From outside Dutton has Albo all at sea and inside Senator Payman is the new reality that old ALP can’t come to terms with.
      But its always entertaining to read your latest moan about the Greens. Those dastardly Greens, yeah, their preferences that help elect ALP HoR MP’s. Its just not right is it Keithy old son.

      • Getting a little cranky there are we old son, just how many Greens MP’s get elected without ALP preferences was it again my man, still waiting, can help if necessary.

          • Yes, that’s how the preferential voting system works, if the Greens get more primary votes than Labor, but we are doing everything possible to ensure that doesn’t happen. Richmond has always been a highly marginal seat, but Justine is no novice.

          • David, no, the Mandy will romp away with the minimum primary 50% plus 1 vote to win in her own right.

          • Joachim old son, I am at a loss to determine who is the best comedian here. you or Mandy Nolan??????

  4. Prime Minister Dutton, ready to take over from ‘The Oncer’ / Ablo.
    How did it come to this, the dude that ALP labelled as unelectable smacking the ALP for 6 inside one term of parliament.
    The ALP, impotent in dealing with Dutton, their anti-nuclear memes of 3 eyed fish and Blinky Bill showed how poor they are in dealing with Dutton continually setting the agenda,except for when the current ALP implosion is setting the agenda.

        • As I’ve said before – with friends like the Greens (if that’s to whom you allude) the ALP sure don’t need enemies.

          My question: when the Greens have the courage to officially join the Coalition which part will it be? The Libs or the Nats?

          • Lizardbreath, Lab and LibNat do like to ‘team up’.
            They should formalise their teamings up it and form The LabLibNat Party…as they play that Beatles beauty of a song.

          • Now I’d like to have the stats on how many times the Greens have voted with the Coalition since the beginning of this parliament compared with Labor voting with them.

            I can’t decide atm, whether the LNP are turning Green or the Greens are turning blue. Either way, I don’t think either will be welcome in the Teals!

          • Why? I don’t think there is colour confusion or an identity crisis there.

            Or are you hinting that Albo is a gem? 💎

          • Election’25, if ALbo is lucky he might scrape back in minority government – Lab/Green/Teal = Turquoise; that’s a gem!

    • I don’t know about any “implosion” in the ALP but I’d like to think the Greens would be more interested in getting important housing stimulus legislation through than playing political games with valuable senate time.

      He keeps inviting the likes of Jed Kearney and Justine Elliott to “cross the floor” – coincidentally seats the Greens are targeting ‘cause they don’t target Tory seats – but someone needs to explain to him that they’re in a different House! The Greens got short shrift in the people’s house!

        • Unfortunately it’s looking more like the Coalition’s obstructionism in the Whitlam years. Working diligently to bring the government down.

          • Well, if the ALP weren’t a minority party in the Senate I’m sure that description wouldn’t be bandied about.

          • Joachim my poor deluded man, the ALP is in a minority in the Senate, but get this, it’s a far bigger minority than your pitiful disruptive mob.

          • Keith, the only thing pitiful around here, is a dude who boasts in the pages of The Echo to know who is causing damage to MP’s offices but who won’t go to the police with the ‘evidence’.

          • Oh I see you are still having trouble telling us all how many Greens MP’s have been elected without LABOR preferences, or is it because you can’t????????, can help if necessary old son.


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