Politics Analysis

Dutton's dire straits

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

The first Newspoll taken since the 21 May Federal Election has revealed a truth long suspected by a great many Australians: that Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is not very well-liked.

The poll results would have been grim reading for the habitually grim Dutton, whose face resembles an Easter Island monolith ─ except for when he attempts one of his roughly biannual smiles and he becomes entirely terrifying.

Newspoll has the incoming Albanese Government leading the Dutton Opposition 56-44 on a two-party preferred basis. This had slumped by 4% since the Election.

Even more horrifying for the monolithic Dutton, the poll saw Prime Minister Anthony Albanese record the highest ever Newspoll satisfaction rating for an incoming prime minister, with 61% polled approving of his performance, surpassing even that recorded by Bob Hawke and Kevin Rudd when they became PM.

Albanese also trounced Dutton 59 to 25 for preferred PM. On the question of who would make the better prime minister, 56% of the Australian voting public polled preferred Albanese, with only 25% favouring Dutton. This was the best preferred prime minister rating for any PM since the honeymoon days of Kevin Rudd, way back in 2008.

So, Peter Dutton has a problem. And I’m not talking about his resemblance to Pacific Island statues, or his occasional flashes of Voldemort. Dutton cannot help how he looks. Frog knows, if we selected prime ministers based on their looks, I very much doubt John Howard or Scott Morrison would ever have been elected.

The point is, Dutton has a problem. But why does he have a problem?

He has virtually all the media on his side, except for annoying truth-telling tiddlers like ourselves, attempting to counter the laughable partisan idiocy of the conservative mainstream media. In fact, the Sun God himself, Rupert Murdoch, owner of Sky News and, well, virtually every print publication in Australia these days, flew back into Australia to propel Dutton into the PM-ship in 2017.

Unfortunately for Rupert, this was only to see those ungrateful Liberal toadies recoil at the prospect of a Dutton prime ministership and select the almost as egregious ScoMo in his place.

Murdoch hates to settle, so in the wake of the last election, he insisted that the member for Easter Island take Morrison’s place in the poisoned chalice that is the incoming Federal Opposition Leader.

I say poisoned, because never in the history of Australia since Federation in 1901, has an incoming opposition leader from a losing party at a federal election ever managed to secure victory at the subsequent election.

Even the strategic vacuum that was Tony Abbott waited for the entirely forgettable Dr Brendan Nelson to take over after Kevin07 and crawl down into single-figure approval ratings before he mercifully relieved the bad doctor of the Liberal Party leadership.

But not Dutton. The multimillionaire former Queensland drug cop just needed to be in charge as soon as possible. And so he was, unchallenged — the Liberal Party caucus relenting wordlessly. Probably, it took just one Dutton smile to get them all into line. Discretion is, indeed, the better part of valour.

It is unlikely Dutton will be capable of scaring all of Australia into voting for him at the next election. Because frightening people with boat scares and alleged terrorist plots is certainly the tactic Dutton, like Morrison, Howard and Abbott before him, habitually used to frighten Australians into voting for the Liberal Party.

And if they were able to do that, Morrison would have been re-elected, because both conspired to deceive Australia about these “on water matters”, again, on Election Day 2022.

I doubt Albanese will be as easy to spook as previous Labor leaders. Certainly, the Labor PM isn’t scared of Dutton, having labelled him, in Question Time in the last Parliament, forever more as Boofhead.

(Many other Australians have even less savoury nicknames for Dutton, as well as some having more, though the latter are usually based around various root vegetables the Opposition Leader is said to resemble, along with various dishes associated with such tubers.)

In short, don’t despair, Australians. The dark times of Scott Morrison are over and the days of his repellent henchman, Dutton, are soon to be over as well.

The question is, who, among the bizarre parade of other cartoonish Batman villains that comprise the parliamentary conservatives these days, the Liberals might go to Angus Taylor? Sussan Ley? Stuart Robert? Karen Andrews? Alan Tudge? (OMG.)

Of course, that is no reason for high-minded, intelligent progressive Independent Australians to feel smug and complacent.

Or if it is, perhaps only just a little bit.

IA founder David G Donovan writes a Tuesday morning column, almost every week. Follow Dave on Twitter @davrosz. Also follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus, on Facebook HERE and on Instagram HERE.

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