21 May 2024

Labor underestimates shameless Dutton at its peril

| Ian Bushnell
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Peter Dutton

Dismissing Peter Dutton as unhinged, as Treasurer Jim Chalmers did, won’t cut it. Photo: Peter Dutton Facebook.

If nothing else, you have to admire Peter Dutton’s chutzpah.

Back on track? His election slogan tryout in the Budget reply speech begs the question: was Australia on track in 2022 under Scott Morrison? Really?

The majority of voters didn’t think so.

It doesn’t really matter. Mr Dutton may as well be saying ‘make Australia great again’ because the tenor is the same as the Trumpian battlecry.

He zeroed in on all the hot-button issues of housing, migration, cost of living and crime, wiping the slate clean for the Coalition to the extent you would think it hadn’t been in power for 22 of the past 28 years, certainly not as a senior minister for nearly decade, including in immigration.

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The trick for Mr Dutton is to convince voters that in just two years, the housing crisis is all Labor’s fault, mainly due to runaway migration on their watch.

Forget the time when the Coalition and business were happy with permanent migration levels at 190,000 a year highs to boost the economy and plug skills shortages before the Morrison Government cut it back to 160,000 in 2019, although the net figure remained high.

Labor is trimming levels back to that 190,000 figure, but the net figure will fall to be less than forecast in 2019.

The Coalition also cut funding to universities, forcing them to look to international students to maintain revenue.

The consensus is that the migration bounce back after the reopening of borders is a factor in the housing crisis, but it is just one of many, including entrenched undersupply, insufficient land release, and state and territory planning policies.

There is also the ongoing matter of John Howard’s legacy of capital gains tax concessions, which many economists, even some in the property industry, say need reform to provide structural change.

But instead of a complex policy response, it all comes down to migrants taking homes that should be yours.

Mr Dutton says he’ll slash permanent migration levels to about 140,000 a year and cut the number of international students, and ban foreign investors and temporary residents from purchasing existing homes for two years.

It’s simplistic, dog-whistling, dangerous and devastating politics.

Labor talks about getting the policy right and the politics will sort itself out.

It couldn’t be any more deluded.

Mr Dutton is ready to tap into the politics of grievance, play to base emotions, and not let the facts get in the way of the story.

The noble assumption that elections are won and lost on a contest of ideas and weighing of policies no longer applies in a world of social media trolls, fractured news media and culture wars.

If Labor wants a second term, it will have to fight for it, scrapping all the way. Dismissing him as unhinged, as Treasurer Jim Chalmers did, won’t cut it.

It doesn’t matter that Mr Dutton is dreaming when it comes to the nuclear energy option, or that crime is a state responsibility or that blaming migrants for a housing crisis that has been decades in the making is not only wrong but a dangerous threat to social cohesion.

It doesn’t matter that Labor might be governing well, or how calibrated its Budget or policies may be or that there are forces outside of its control at work, such as the wars in Ukraine and Gaza.

READ ALSO ACT Labor opens campaign with pledge to hire 800 healthcare workers

With interest rates not falling, homeowners worried, renters reeling, businesses hurting, and people feeling the pinch at the supermarket and the pump, there is more than enough discontent for Mr Dutton to mine.

So don’t expect nuanced positions and policy detail from him. He will keep it brutally simple, poke the sore spots and build pressure.

It won’t be pretty, but it could be effective if unchallenged.

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Aldyth Mackay1:41 pm 17 Jun 24

I do not think this gentleman should use this forum to put forward his political views.

TLDR: Dutton offends the values of inner-city greens/woke Labor/Teals. They look down on him because they know best.

Do you imply that you would vote for anyone who is disliked by a group defined and objectified by you?

Do you imply that people with whom you disagree are incapable of being right?

Both wholly authoritarian positions. People tend to use “Trumpian” for those in the current political milieu but it has a very long history.

Dutton’s got Albanese rattled. The pitch in Albanese’s voice goes up an octave when he mentions Dutton’s name

HiddenDragon10:27 pm 20 May 24

Labor went to the 2022 election with a Biden-lite agenda, embroidered with some quite clever examples of the Fabian socialist incrementalism which, from time to time, emerge from their symbiotic relationship with welfare bureaucracies and academia – so there’s a certain symmetry in the Liberals starting to set out what sounds like a Trump-lite agenda.

What we’ve heard so far from Dutton is unlikely to be decisive (in part because the condescending dills who were mugged by reality in the early evening of 14 October 2023 will presumably have learned some practical lessons from that salutary experience) and the real test is likely to be whether the Liberals can lay out a believable economic agenda.

The Liberals won’t be able to get away with the same game as Abbott in 2013 – i.e. pretending that “debt and deficits” can be fixed painlessly, or even the “growing the pie” (or “poi”, depending on who was speaking) blather which was trotted out after the disaster of the 2014 Budget.

They will need something new and substantial – laying out an agenda for cleaning up the over-governed fiscal mess which the Australian federation has sunk into would be a very good start, along with some ideas for reducing the amount of churn in the federal taxation and welfare systems.

GrumpyGrandpa6:41 pm 20 May 24

Oppostions don’t win government. Governments lose it.

An Opposition only has to be seen as credible/believeable when the government is on the nose.

That’s how Albo got elected; simply off the back of Morrison dragging his government down; Fire response, 5 ministries etc.

Morrison survived his first election because the Opposition wasn’t credible. It was Shorten’s election to win, but together with Shadow Treasurer Bowen their proposed changes to CGT, NG and Franking Credits screwed them over and probably cost Shorten any chance at the top job in the future.

Dutton historically has been in unpopular portfolios and he’ll need time to be seen as PM material. At this stage, I’m thinking Albo will be re-elected, but I don’t think he’s a shoe-in.

@Grumpy Grandpa
very good obervations.

Despite Labor’s misfires, I agree that Albo will probably be re-elected, mainly because Dutton in very much on the nose outside of Queensland. However, not only is Albo not a shoe-in, I think there’s a very high probablilty of him having a minority government, supported by the Teal independents.

Capital Retro1:17 pm 22 May 24

Albo is now re-embracing Catholicism and he is marrying his partner which he thinks might appeal to hard line Catholics (even Zed would approve).

Some will say I am cynical but politicians are only motivated by self-interest and votes and they will do anything to achieve that.

Who could forget how some Labor people in Queensland got dead people to vote?

@Capital Retro
“Who could forget how some Labor people in Queensland got dead people to vote?”
Wow – I didn’t realise that Labor people were able to resurrect the dead, CR.

Of course no-one can forget it because it probably didn’t happen. Nevertheless, if people voted illegally by using the names of deceased people still on the roll, nobody would know how those votes were cast.

Yet another of your unfounded fabrications, CR.

Capital Retro10:31 am 23 May 24

On July 26, 1989, Darryl Leonard Cox, pleaded guilty before Mr Page SM in the Brisbane Magistrates Court to falsely and knowingly signing an application for a postal vote in respect of a person who was dead. His actions were excused (in Hansard) by the local ALP MP on the grounds that: “When Darryl Cox signed a statement to be helpful to an elderly person, he was not aware that the person was dead …”. The ALP “Campaign Director” and chief spokesman at the time, Wayne Swan, was conspicuous by his silence.

@Capital Retro
So, you attribute one instance by an individual, in 1989, to “Labor people”. That’s 35 years ago, CR – but why should I be surprised? One thing you are very good at is living in the past.

Capital Retro shows his comprehension difficulty over the difference between a vote and an application for a postal vote which went no further, so he prefers the falsehood because that’s what you do in lieu of knowledge.


Dutton has an equivalent in almost every country, especially in Europe where high immigration has allowed them to gain power.

lol. Outside Queensland, Dutton is electoral poison.

Stephen Saunders1:18 pm 20 May 24

Fact is, Labor’s 1m net migration in 24m is completely off the scale, and has triggered an all time rental crisis.

Fact is, every poll says voters don’t want it, the last two being TAPRI and Resolve Monitor. Ian is trying to bully voters, into toeing the Labor line.

Fact is that you prove you prefer disinformation to fact.

Your posts look indistinguishable from those of a troll factory which seeks to spread division rather than to consider issues.

How anyone could consider either of the two majors to be interested in serving the national interest is beyond me at this point.

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