Peter Dutton, the immigration hardliner who could be Australia's next PM

Immigration hardliner Peter Dutton is pushing to be Australia's 30th Prime Minister, the country's sixth in ...

Posted: Aug 23, 2018 10:49 AM
Updated: Aug 23, 2018 10:49 AM

Immigration hardliner Peter Dutton is pushing to be Australia's 30th Prime Minister, the country's sixth in just over 10 years, as a conservative leadership coup against current leader Malcolm Turnbull gains momentum.

A rift in the ruling Liberal Party over Turnbull's climate change policy, known as the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), led to a challenge for the party's leadership on Monday morning.

Australia

Continents and regions

Malcolm Turnbull

Oceania

Political Figures - Intl

Government and public administration

Immigration

Immigration, citizenship and displacement

International relations and national security

Politics

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Climate change

Energy and environment

Energy and utilities

Environment and natural resources

Tony Abbott

Conservatism

Government bodies and offices

Heads of government

Prime ministers

Society

Legislative bodies

Liberalism

Political parties

Dutton, 47, a leader in the party's conservative faction, only narrowly lost a leadership contest against Turnbull and is now seeking to mount another attempt, following the resignation of three high-profile Australian ministers, including Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

On Thursday, Dutton tweeted he had spoken with Turnbull, "to advise him I believed the majority of the party room no longer supported his leadership. Accordingly, I asked him to convene a party room meeting at which I would challenge for the leadership of the Parliamentary Liberal Party."

A veteran politician and former Queensland policeman who joined the Australian Parliament aged just 31, Dutton has made a name for himself in recent years as the country's immigration minister, overseeing Australia's strict border protection regime.

But the staunch conservative has also proved to be something of a controversial figure in Australian politics, following disparaging comments about immigrants.

A poll in early August found just 7% of voters from his own ruling Liberal Party wanted Dutton to be their leader, behind Prime Minister Turnbull on 51%.

However, as of Monday, almost a dozen ministers had offered their resignations to Turnbull, and with just eight votes standing between him and the most powerful job in Australia, Dutton's bid to become prime minister could soon become a reality.

Speaking to CNN, former Liberal Party leader John Hewson issued a note of caution, saying Dutton wasn't a "natural leader" and his likely policy agenda might be too extreme for average Australians.

There are even questions over whether or not Dutton is eligible to sit in Parliament, over local media reports his family's childcare businesses may be receiving money from the government in breach of constitutional rules.

"If Peter Dutton is the answer, what the hell's the question?" Hewson said.

Ideological rift

The ruling Liberal Party is primarily split between two ideological factions -- a moderate, pro-business grouping led by Turnbull and a large conservative faction, partially led by Dutton.

The differences between the two groups have widened in recent years, especially over immigration and climate change policy.

"(The conservatives) have a very strong ideological position and have never been convinced Malcolm Turnbull ought to be Liberal PM. They don't accept his credentials," John Warhurst, emeritus professor of Australian Politics at the Australian National University, told CNN.

The deep divisions between the two groups exploded when Turnbull tried to legislate action on climate change in line with the Paris Agreement, which many in the conservative faction want to dump altogether.

The party's right wing is now looking to install a leader from within their own faction, with Dutton emerging as the clear front runner.

A leading light of Australia's conservative movement, Dutton repeatedly opposed same-sex marriage prior to its legalization in Australia in 2017, and was one of the architects of a divisive national vote designed to stall the issue.

He was also one of a small number of politicians who boycotted then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology in 2008 to the Stolen Generations, a name given to the tens of thousands of Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their parents and families by the government between 1910 and 1970.

If the former immigration minister takes power in coming weeks, Australia's government is likely to move further to the right on migration, climate change and social issues ahead of a national election, due to be held by May 2019 at the latest.

But Hewson said he didn't believe that a "hard line right" policy platform, similar to that of US President Donald Trump, could be successful in Australia. "If you give up the center ground, you'll make it truly hard to win an election," he said.

Changes to immigration?

Australia has long considered itself a successful multicultural, immigrant nation, with almost one in four of the country's population in 2017 originally born overseas.

But as the country's immigration minister since 2014, Dutton has been a longtime advocate for lower immigration and harsher tests on potential migrants to Australia.

Speaking to Sky News following his narrow loss in Monday's leadership ballot, Dutton reiterated his previous statements that immigration numbers needed to be cut.

"It's clear the Australian public particularly in capital cities ... have a view that the migration number is too high, people sitting in congested traffic each day when they go to work or go and pick the kids up," he said

In 2016, he complained to Sky News about immigrants who "won't be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English," adding they would be taking Australian jobs.

At the same time as he has voiced concern over immigration numbers, Dutton sparked controversy by suggesting a special visa category could be created to allow white South African farmers, allegedly persecuted in their home country, to come to Australia as refugees.

"I do think on the information I've seen people do need help and they need help from a civilized country," Dutton told Australian newspaper the Daily Telegraph on March 14.

Speaking to CNN at the time, South African farmers groups denied there was a need for a special refugee visa at this stage.

Climate change action unlikely

In early 2015 Dutton was picked up on an overhead microphone speaking to then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott about a recent trip to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.

Abbott said he was sorry he was late, he was still running on "Cape York time" to which Dutton responded, "Time doesn't mean anything when you're about to have water lapping at your doors," he said, joking about the effects of climate change.

Dutton apologized for the joke but the conservative politician is likely to take a dim view of any action on climate change.

The Liberal Party's conservative faction is very hostile towards the Paris Agreement, with many calling for it to be ditched, and instead advocating for greater coal power in Australia.

Following his loss to Turnbull on Friday, Dutton said he wanted to lower energy prices for Australian families, and called for a national inquiry into how expensive electricity bills had become.

"Australian consumers for way too long have been paying way too much for fuel and for electricity," he told local radio station Triple M.

Ian Lowe, Emeritus Professor at Griffith University's School of Science, told CNN that action on climate change under a potential Dutton government was highly unlikely, given the objections to Turnbull's "inadequate" policy.

"It's clear the faction won't take any serious action to slow down climate change, they will argue the government's duty is to have a secure energy supply at as low cost as possible, and they will say that means keeping old, dirty coal fired power stations open as long as possible," he said.

Huntsville
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 74°
Florence
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 71°
Fayetteville
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 75°
Decatur
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 72°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 73°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 56441

Reported Deaths: 1136
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson7012170
Mobile5061140
Montgomery4599112
Tuscaloosa274353
Madison25359
Marshall205012
Shelby176425
Lee164737
Morgan13975
Baldwin134111
Walker111332
Elmore107622
Etowah106914
Dallas10189
DeKalb10017
Franklin95016
Unassigned77728
Autauga71515
Russell7130
Chambers68530
Cullman6686
Limestone6653
Butler65529
Houston6417
Tallapoosa63069
Lauderdale6006
St. Clair5983
Calhoun5545
Colbert5286
Escambia5128
Lowndes49222
Pike4805
Jackson4422
Coffee4364
Covington43512
Talladega4177
Dale4061
Barbour4022
Bullock37810
Hale36323
Marengo36111
Chilton3452
Blount3311
Clarke3236
Wilcox3158
Marion30914
Winston3095
Sumter29713
Pickens2786
Randolph2759
Monroe2683
Perry2552
Conecuh2388
Bibb2271
Macon2229
Choctaw22012
Greene2009
Henry1573
Washington1529
Lawrence1460
Crenshaw1343
Cherokee1317
Geneva1010
Fayette901
Clay892
Lamar891
Coosa671
Cleburne481
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 65274

Reported Deaths: 749
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby14163224
Davidson13976146
Rutherford375539
Hamilton353538
Sumner204056
Williamson193916
Knox171710
Out of TN166012
Trousdale15105
Wilson126117
Putnam10817
Unassigned10772
Bradley10104
Robertson97313
Sevier9244
Montgomery8247
Tipton7177
Lake6960
Macon6467
Bledsoe6311
Bedford6309
Hamblen5084
Maury4993
Hardeman4444
Madison3842
Fayette3805
Rhea3500
Blount3483
Loudon3312
Dyer3023
McMinn29319
Cheatham2873
Dickson2820
Washington2760
Lawrence2506
Sullivan2485
Cumberland2294
Anderson2112
Gibson2031
Jefferson1931
Lauderdale1934
Smith1852
Warren1590
Greene1572
Monroe1566
Coffee1520
Cocke1460
Haywood1413
Hardin1407
Obion1273
Marshall1232
Wayne1230
Franklin1223
Giles1221
McNairy1171
Hickman1120
Carter1082
Marion1014
DeKalb990
Hawkins952
Lincoln950
White933
Roane880
Henderson830
Chester810
Overton791
Weakley791
Claiborne760
Campbell721
Grundy672
Crockett653
Unicoi600
Grainger590
Cannon580
Carroll571
Polk570
Henry540
Sequatchie520
Jackson500
Johnson490
Humphreys482
Perry430
Meigs400
Decatur350
Morgan341
Fentress290
Scott290
Union280
Stewart270
Clay230
Houston230
Moore230
Benton161
Hancock120
Lewis120
Van Buren90
Pickett80

 

 

Community Events