Politics Opinion

Peter Dutton makes the Voice about ‘retail politics’ in his lust for power

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Opposition Leader Peter Dutton continues to cling to the argument that the Voice will divide the nation (Screenshot via YouTube / edited)

Peter Dutton's opposition to the Voice to Parliament is based on flimsy arguments, yet the compliant mainstream media continues its unwavering support, writes Belinda Jones.

THIS YEAR’S Garma Festival in Arnhem Land was a celebration of culture and an opportunity to discuss the upcoming Referendum on the Voice To Parliament. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and several other government ministers attended.

Conspicuously absent from Garma were the Leader of the Opposition, Peter Dutton, and Shadow Indigenous Affairs Minister, Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, who both turned down the invitation, which speaks volumes about both their characters. Neither had any other engagement as important as Garma to attend. Both proved themselves to be gutless wonders who can talk the talk but can’t walk the walk. 

Also recently, the Australian Financial Review revealed a leaked text message from an unnamed Coalition MP texting during Question Time last week who said:

‘We can’t win the election unless we defeat the Voice solidly, ie we need to defeat it to get to the election starting line.’

This explained why the Opposition was peppering the Government with questions on the Voice and then complaining the Government wasn’t discussing the cost of living crisis.

This tactic is straight from the Liberal playbook used by Sky News commentator Peta Credlin and former PM Tony Abbott on climate change with devastating consequences for the nation. 

Credlin boasted in 2017:

“Along comes a carbon tax. It wasn’t a carbon tax, as you know. It was many other things in nomenclature terms but we made it a carbon tax. We made it a fight about the hip pocket and not about the environment. That was brutal retail politics and it took Abbott about six months to cut through and when he cut through, Gillard was gone.”

Back then, the media played along too and called the Gillard Government’s climate policy a “carbon tax”. Ultimately, Abbott did “cut through” with the help of the media and both Gillard and carbon pricing were gone, leading Australia into a decade of climate change denialism. This saw Australia miss the opportunity to be a world leader in climate change action and renewable technologies, ultimately costing the nation billions in real terms.

Fast forward to 2023 and exactly the same scenario is playing out with the Voice To Parliament. Dutton is trying to make this important national issue about “retail politics” and the sycophantic mainstream media is playing along again to deceive Australians.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took the Voice To Parliament issue to the General Election in May 2022 and won majority government and a mandate to implement the Uluru Statement From The Heart in full.

For months, the Opposition has played divisive games, firstly complaining there was not enough “detail”. That was quickly dispelled when it was evident that there was plenty of detail available.

Then the Opposition demanded to see the Solicitor-General’s advice, claiming ‘Australians have a right to know if its top lawyer has “concerns”’. That objection was dispelled when the Solicitor-General’s advice had no “concerns”. 

As each one of the eternally negative Dutton and the Opposition’s excuses falls over, the mainstream media runs to the polls to gauge which way the debate is swinging. The trouble is that the unreliable polls the mainstream media rely on are “run by” or “exclusive to” the same media organisations that failed to differentiate between “retail politics” and responsible climate action policy back in 2011. And who also seem unable to understand the key issues in the Voice To Parliament debate.

Since then, Dutton and the ‘No’ camp in the divided Opposition have shifted their narrative a number of times when all their other excuses fell over. Currently, the opaque excuse that the Voice is “divisive” seems to be what Dutton is grasping onto. On the other hand, Albanese and his entire parliamentary party are united on the issue and are prosecuting a solid argument that the Voice will “unify” the nation. 

Albanese is supported by a bevy of sporting groups, academics, legal experts, community groups and leaders, businesses, church groups, state and local governments and Australians all around the country. The ‘Yes’ campaign is gathering strength as the Referendum approaches. The support for the ‘No’ camp is dwindling and cannot match the obvious show of numbers as seen in the ‘Yes’ campaign.

The ‘No’ campaign cannot name any large sporting, business or community organisation that supports their stance. Price complained in May that sports people shouldn’t be entwining themselves in the debate. It’s significant to note that the ‘No’ camp has been unable to find any prominent sportsperson willing to support its case. The ‘No’ camp has also been caught out printing lies from people they claim to support them or spreading “garbage” about prominent Indigenous leaders.

These constant failures from Dutton, Price and the ‘No’ camp were likely the real reason Dutton and Price were too gutless to turn up to Garma. Dutton only appears to like preaching to the converted and he is not a persuasive speaker at the best of times — even less so when his arguments are flimsy and full of holes. 

Dutton may want to make the Voice about “retail politics” but unlike Abbott and Credlin’s devastatingly successful “carbon tax” lie, Dutton keeps changing his story and excuses. Abbott was consistently prosecuting the same argument over and over; Dutton changes his excuse to be against the Voice as often as he changes his undies.

And he’s only doing it to secure political power for himself — he simply doesn’t care about the long-term damage he does to the country in his relentless lust for power, exactly like the failed Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin did.

You can follow IA columnist Belinda Jones on Twitter @belindajones68.

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