Media Analysis

Dutton reveals PTSD battle on ABC's 'Kitchen-Counter-Information-Cabinet'

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(Image by Dan Jensen)

Apparently, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

At least, this was part of the insightful discourse to which the national broadcaster subjected viewers on its latest Kitchen 'Counter-Information' Cabinet episode, featuring the culinary skills of hard-hitting host, Annabel Crabb, and the Liberal Opposition Leader.

Peter Dutton told Crabb he suffers from a “sort of PTSD” from his time working as a Queensland police officer.


IA is certainly not suggesting that Peter Dutton is not suffering from this serious and debilitating condition.

But if this is the case, then as the Leader of the Opposition, Pete should have this ailment properly diagnosed and treated. Certainly, as he holds such an important position for which he is receiving a salary of $400K per annum plus expenses, taxpayers should expect that Dutton be removed from office under the care of a medical professional until his disorder receives proper attention.

We are, of course, assuming that Dutton’s condition is not under control but something from which he still suffers, since he chose to broadcast it while still managing to cook up an “outstanding” seafood chowder on the program. (Eat your heart out ScoMo!)

Unfortunately, the possibility of Dutton stepping aside while he receives said treatment and/or counselling, which he admitted he did not seek (shocker), appears remote because according to him, in his day, “You just had to harden up, I suppose”. No doubt this “cure” would be helpful for war veterans, or asylum seekers imprisoned and tortured by Dutton for over a decade on Manus and Nauru. You heard it first on the ABC!

Apart from watching Petie and Annabel sipping soup and Riesling, viewers were also expected to swallow the following about the Liberal Party Leader:

  • that Pete is "shy";
  • but still has a sense of humour (Pacific Island climate jokes not mentioned);
  • he owns a “cosy” kitchen and “magic happens” there;
  • before (or possibly at the same time as) experiencing PTSD, Pete also suffered through his parents' divorce and was jilted in love;
  • that he is really just a “softy” with an adoring wife, kids and even a cute dog;
  • though still strong, as evinced by his “black and white” approach and “zeal for law and order” (no inquiries on why Pete's wife had to make a public announcement denying her husband's "monster" status);
  • that he meditates and likes big trees; and
  • Dutton’s racist comments about African gangs, Lebanese immigrants and/or First Nations Australians were just blown out of proportion by – wait for it – Dan Andrews.

The show really should come with a nausea warning.


Crabb has insisted the program is actually in the interests of public interest journalism because:

“If you make them [guests like Dutton and Morrison] feel comfortable enough, they will often reveal things about themselves that are actually quite interesting and key to understanding them…”

And during this entire Dutton propaganda fest, Crabb did manage a couple of “revealing” questions — at least when compared to the ones about the former cop's meditation mantra, for instance. We knew these were intended to be tricky since we were treated to frequent close-ups of Annabel shifting uncomfortably in her seat while earnestly frowning.

Unfortunately, Crabb also downgraded the questions with built-in softening mechanisms, upon which Dutton quickly pounced.


Crabb turns to Dutton's comments:

“...around race, immigration, that sort of stuff... For example, ... you were talking about people being afraid to go out for dinner because there were African gangs...?"

Dutton mumbled something about "friends in Melbourne"  who'd had their "car stolen" and "people going into restaurants creating havoc" and claimed the incidents related to kids from a particular community (read: Black-African, not White South-African, obviously) and then says:

"Dan Andrews exploited that for all it was worth."

Of course! You're not really racist and it's all Dan's fault — great detective work, Pete!

Crabb also asks about the time Dutton claimed (former Liberal PM) Malcolm Fraser made a mistake by allowing Lebanese Muslim migrants into Australia but then adds helpfully:

"I remember ... you were talking about an over-representation of that particular cohort in terrorist accused.”

Phew, thanks, Annabel! Yes! 

"There was an over-representation!” he says.

Crabb does follow with this:

”I can’t see how there’s any other way of looking at it other than it’s a racist remark.”

To which Dutton replies:

"Well, I’ve apologised but…"

Sadly, he is again saved by the host:

“Yeah, you make black and white pronouncements, behind it there’s all this nuance, like, 'I’m not talking about those people, I’m talking about these people' but what people hear is the black and white.”

Of course! It’s the "people's" fault for not listening to what was going on inside Pete’s PTSD-affected head. Yeah!

Pipes up Pete:

“What people want to amplify… I mean, is Dan Andrews gonna pick up the point that has the most substance or is he going to pick up the point that has the most political advantage?”

That Dan Andrews sure is talented, isn’t he? He clearly spends all his time “politicising” all that racism forever spewing out of Dutton’s mouth — it’s a wonder he finds time to run the state of Victoria!

Annabel has one more deep and revealing question on the boil. This one about Dutton's recent claim that he regretted not supporting Rudd's Apology to the Stolen Generations.

She asks:

"Do you think you’re at risk of making the same mistake again with The Voice?"

A seemingly unedited soliloquy follows from Dutton about "the Constitution" and "the High Court" and all the "legalities" and (without a trace of irony) people having "the right" to voice their opinions.

Crabb tries changing course: "What blows you away about Indigenous culture?"

Dutton answers by launching into a diatribe about orderly East Arnhem Land versus unlawful Alice Springs and how "heartbreaking" it all is, punctuated with:

"It’s the squalor!", "It’s the underbelly!" and finally:

"It breaks my heart when you see kids in that situation." 

Really, Pete? That's why you don't want to give First Nations people a Voice? Because it all just breaks your heart?

Even the conversation moving to the suffering of children does not prompt Crabb to ask about the Australian-born Biloela kids, locked up in isolation for four years by Dutton because letting them live in their birthplace"would send a bad message"

Or an enquiry about all the asylum seeker children he traumatised, denying them urgent medical treatment and fighting medical professionals, aid agencies and even magistrates for years.

"I think it’s time for dessert," announces Annabel.

We think it’s time for copious antacids, ABC.


According to that publication of record, the Daily Mail, Crabb has been 'forced to step away from social media' to avoid all that hurtful criticism from 'left-leaning fans' over the Dutton episode.

But to be fair to Annabel, surely no one expected anything more in-depth from this program than a comfy setting for Dutton to refashion his image, following in the footsteps of the previous PM? 

Some viewers may have assumed it might be entertaining, however.

Perhaps an even more exciting show might feature Dutton and ScoMo facing off in the Masterchef kitchen, where they get to showcase all the cruel acts that make up their political careers "on a plate", with the “prize” being the Liberal leadership. 

This is just part of the story. Read the full story by subscribing to IA. Do it right nowYou can follow Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9 and Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and Facebook HERE.

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