ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact
Opposition leader Peter Dutton has admitted this week that perhaps he was wrong to suggest settling Lebanese Muslims here was a mistake. That he might’ve been wrong to suggest that Melbourne was being held ransom by African gangs. Also, that walking out on the formal apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly to the Stolen Generations whose lives had been blighted by past government policies of forced child removal and assimilation, was actually not a good idea in hindsight.
But his feelings toward the Voice to Parliament, he says, will not stand to haunt him should he end up on the wrong side of history.
Mr Dutton spoke to The Advocate today about the things he said in the past and how the things he’s saying now aren’t like them because this is not the same.
“As I’ve said previously, I got caught up in the moment and said some things that I’m not exactly proud of,” he said.
“In the heat of battle, when you’re in the thick of it, these things can happen. With regard to the Lebanese-Australian population, I was smeared in the media for making racist comments about them when I was only making racist comments about a small minority of Lebanese-Australians—the Muslim ones. They tried to blow up an A380 and I said it was a mistake for the Fraser Government to let those individuals in! That I’m not going to apologise for. I apologised to the good Lebanese people, like the Christian ones that make an effort to assimilate into our society, for any hurt I might’ve caused them during my sweeping generalisations. Case closed.”
“Then yeah, the African gangs saga. That was blown out of proportion. By the media, that is. Again, I wanted to outline the stunning hubris of the Rudd/Gillard Government for allowing them to come here. I’m, of course, not talking about the good Africans that came here under Howard. I’m talking about how Dan Andrews went soft on crime and let young African people run riot through Melbourne every night. While there wasn’t any evidence to suggest this was true, I maintain it was true. I’m speaking my truth. But I apologised for upsetting anyone, so again, case closed.”
“What I’m actually cut up about is taking the piss out of the Apology. I should’ve at least stayed in the chamber instead of leaving to go and finish my date on The Sims Hot Date. I regret doing that. I apologised to the Aboriginal people who were offended (not all of them were), and they forgave me, so it’s case closed on that.”
“But regarding the Voice, I will regret nothing. I’m sure of it.”
More to come.