Subjects: The Prime Minister’s divisive Voice, Treaty, Truth proposal; the Prime Minister’s lack of leadership; the barbaric attacks on Israel and the ramifications around Australia.
Well, tomorrow Australians head to the polls to vote on the Voice to Parliament. Peter Dutton, Opposition Leader, joins me now.
Thank you so much for your time, Peter. Great to have you on the show.
Thanks, Erin. Pleasure.
You took your time determining the Coalition would take a ‘no’ stance, is there any part of you that worries that you might be on the wrong side of history with this, or are you supremely confident in your position?
Well Erin, as you say, we were criticised at the time for not coming out of the box, instinctively saying ‘no’, but we wanted to ask a series of questions, which I did in January, 15 questions I wrote to the Prime Minister and I think millions of Australians wanted those questions and many more answered. There’s never been a reply to that letter and there’s never been information given to the public to satisfy the many queries that people have.
So, I think the Prime Minister has failed, I think there’s been a very dishonest campaign run by the Yes campaign, led by the Prime Minister, when he talks about this just being a ‘simple change’, it’s not. A new chapter in the Constitution is very serious. There should have been a constitutional convention, there should have been proper information furnished to the Australian public, and the Prime Minister has failed each of those tests.
It’s likely to be a failed Referendum as well. How do you and your Party help unite Australia come Sunday? I know it’s the Government’s job, but what will you guys do?
Well Erin, firstly, I just don’t think we should take for granted the outcome. I think it’s very important that if Australians are voting ‘no’, that they need to turn out to vote tomorrow. There’s just no excuse. You can’t on Monday wake up and think, ‘jeez, I thought it was going to get across the line and I didn’t bother going down, I had more things to do on a Saturday morning’. You need to go down and vote, and that is a very clear call that we’re putting out to all of the ‘no’ voters today to make sure that people go down and vote on Saturday, because our country needs to deal with this very important question.
In terms of healing, I agree, I think it’s regrettable that the Prime Minister has firstly spent $400 million to get us where we are today, which is dividing the country. You’ve got family members pitched against family members, communities against communities. There was just no need for it, but the Prime Minister was warned continuously about this over the course of this year, he’s gone down this path anyway looking for his Redfern moment and Australia will need a lot of support from both sides of Parliament to bring the country back together, to deal with a cost of living pressures that people are facing, and that’s the most important priority the Prime Minister’s got.
He’s been distracted for the last 16 months, completely obsessed with the Voice and he’s just not been across the details. Ultimately, if he doesn’t understand the details, how can Australians?
If it is a ‘no’ result and I know that you can’t take any of the polls as you know certain truth, Australians do need to get out and vote. But how badly will it damage the PM, if at all? Does this personally damage him if it fails tomorrow?
Well, Erin, you’ve already got members of the Labor caucus who are speaking to journalists saying, ‘how on earth did this bloke turn 65 per cent support – which was the initial ‘yes’ polling right at the start – into 35 or 45 per cent? How did he get it so wrong?’. And they’re are legitimate questions at the Labour caucus, as well as four or five out of ten Labor voters who are indicating that they’re voting ‘no’, will be asking. I think there is a lot of questioning now about the Prime Minister’s ability to get the calls right – the big calls. His calls on Israel over the course of this week have just been instinctively wrong, and there is a lot of anger and resentment within the Jewish community in our country that the Prime Minister’s instinct was just so wrong.
People know that he doesn’t get across the detail. As I say, I think the Prime Minister’s really misled and been deceptive in this campaign, when on the one hand he says, ‘it would be a brave Government to reject the advice of the Voice’, and then the next hand he’s saying, ‘well, you know, this is just an advisory body. They can express a view. We don’t have to take any notice of it’. Then he says, ‘well, it only relates to Indigenous issues and policy affecting Indigenous Australians’. Then we find out that the broad set of words means that they can have a say – the Voice could have a say on every public policy issue that the Government has to deal with. So, there’s just no consistency or honesty in his approach and I think Australians will mark him down as a result of that.
You mentioned Albanese’s response to Israel and the situation over in the Middle East. John Howard was very critical of him on Paul Murray show last night. Take a listen:
And I, for the life of me, can’t understand why there wasn’t an instantaneous denunciation of the horrific character of the attack by Hamas on the people of Israel.
I’m assuming you agree with that?
Look, I do. And I think it’s a regrettable instance when the Prime Minister doesn’t have the strength of character to stand up for our country and for our international reputation.
The horrible, horrible rhetoric that we heard in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, the slaughter of innocent people, young partygoers, women raped, 150 still in captivity being held as hostages. The Prime Minister said he didn’t see any signs of anti-Semitism – people were yelling ‘gas the Jews’, and ‘F the Jews’ and ‘F Israel’. I just don’t understand what went wrong, I mean, what was the Prime Minister thinking?
Even today, where we’re calling for people who are here on visas, non-citizens who are yelling out that sort of anti-Semitic rhetoric, instilling fear in Jews who live in our country, dual nationals or Australian citizens – those people should have their visas cancelled and they should be deported. The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister of our country, this morning on breakfast television, refused to support that call, which is just quite remarkable.
Peter Dutton, thank you so much for your time. I know it’s a very busy day, we really appreciate it.
Pleasure. Thanks, Erin. Thank you.