Politics

Friendly Reminder: Peter Dutton Boycotted The Apology To The Stolen Generations

Is this man really our next PM?

Peter Dutton has injured his bicep.

It’s on. What felt like minor rumblings last week erupted into full-blown leadership speculation over the weekend, with reports that Peter Dutton is considering a challenge against Malcolm Turnbull.

In the last few days, News Corp has reported that Dutton has called the PM to pledge loyalty while failing to rule out a challenge, Fairfax reports that Dutton’s supporters believe he would win a challenge, and Tony Abbott is apparently talking about serving in a “Dutton government”.

That’s right, if the latest news reports are anything to go by, we might need to prepare ourselves for Prime Minister Peter Dutton.

Just how true some of the above statements actually are is up for debate — people will say anything if they think it will give their side a boost in leadership battles, and a lot of journalists will report those things without question.

But one thing we do know is that Dutton, along with fellow conservative Matthias Cormann, acts as a “praetorian guard” for Turnbull’s leadership. That means that if Dutton withdraws his support, a lot of conservative MPs will go with him. So yes, things are looking a bit shaky for the PM at the moment.

In fact, the PM has just made an embarrassing backdown on one his signature policies just so that he can hold off the baying hordes.

What Would Dutton Do?

So just what kind of person is Peter Dutton? We obviously don’t have to look far to find examples of Dutton being terrible.

But cast your mind back 11 years to get a true mark of the man.

Peter Dutton was one of only a handful of MPs who refused to attend Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generation in 2008. That’s right, on one of the most important days in our Parliament’s history, he was nowhere to be found.

Asked about the decision on an episode of Q&A in 2010, Dutton said he viewed the apology as tokenism, and had no regrets.

“I regarded it as something which was not going to deliver tangible outcomes to kids who are being raped and tortured in communities in the 21st century,” he said. “Now, if I thought for a moment that it was going to deliver positive outcomes to those kids, to their families, to those communities, then I would support it in a heartbeat. But I thought it distracted us from that.”

Dutton has since changed his mind, as politicians often do when they set their eyes on a bigger prize.

“I didn’t appreciate the symbolism of it, and the importance to Indigenous people,” Dutton told Fairfax last year, right around the time that people started throwing his name up as a future PM. What a coincidence.

For what it’s worth, the other politicians who boycotted the apology were all Liberals, they were: Sophie Mirabella, Alby Schultz, Wilson Tuckey, Dennis Jensen and Don Randal. Never let them forget it.