Peter Dutton is the new Leader of the Liberal Party, making him the Opposition Leader.
Dutton was elected unopposed by Liberal MPs earlier today.
So, who is Peter Dutton?
Dutton was born in Brisbane in 1970. He joined the Young Liberals when he was 18, and a year later he ran unsuccessfully as a Liberal candidate for the Queensland Parliament in 1989.
After that, he spent a decade as a police officer in Queensland and then joined his father’s property-flipping business.
Dutton entered politics in 2001 at age 30. In 2004, he became Minister for Workforce Participation and then Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer under the Howard Government.
He was Minister for Health and Sport in the first year of the Abbott Government, then became Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and then Minister for Home Affairs. He held this portfolio until 2021, when he became Minister for Defence.
On Dutton’s website, he lists his key achievements in these portfolios as establishing the Medical Research Future Fund, overseeing Operation Sovereign Borders to stop asylum seeker boats, removing all children from detention facilities, closing the Manus Island detention centre, and overseeing the intake of 12,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq.
Dutton also helped to secure the AUKUS agreement with the UK and the U.S. under the Morrison Government.
Dutton has attracted controversy on several occasions during his career. In 2008, he was one of seven MPs who did not attend Kevin Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generations. He later said he regretted this decision.
In 2015, he was overheard joking about the effect of rising sea levels on Pacific Island nations. In 2016, he said Australia had made “mistakes” in resettling Lebanese refugees. In 2019, he suggested asylum seekers on Nauru who were seeking abortions because they claimed they had been raped were “trying it on”.
In 2018, Dutton challenged Malcolm Turnbull for the leadership of the Liberal Party and the Prime Ministership. He lost an initial vote against Turnbull, but challenged again several days later. Turnbull and Dutton were both defeated in the second ballot by Scott Morrison.
In a press conference this afternoon, Dutton said he wanted Australia “to support aspiration and reward hard work, to take proper care of those Australians who… can’t take care of themselves”.
The new Liberal Leader also said “the issue of China under President Xi is the biggest issue our country will face in our lifetimes. That’s the reality.”
Asked about his character, he said: “I’m not going to change but I want people to see the entire person I am… and make their own judgments when they meet me.”
Dutton also acknowledged his boycott of the Apology to the Stolen Generations in his press conference today, which he called a “mistake”. He said he believed an apology “should have been given when the problems are resolved and the problems are not resolved… we have all failed”.
He said the Liberal Party would be open to talking with Labor about support for a referendum on a First Nations Voice to Parliament. “I want there to be practical solutions, and I want to work with the Government to deliver those,” he said.