Peter Dutton swaps credibility for aid attack: PM

Peter Dutton has been accused of sacrificing the Coalition’s international credibility as the Opposition throws everything at running down the clock in the final fortnight of Parliament for the year.

The government has flagged extending parliamentary sittings as a year-end deadline looms on reforms including overhauling the industrial relations system and instituting a national anti-corruption commission.

But Prime Minister Anthony Albanese accused Mr Dutton of stepping over the line as the Opposition sought to derail the government’s plans by rolling out cost-of-living attacks on a host of issues.

He suggested Mr Dutton had descended into dog whistling when criticism of a new UN climate fund for the developing world appeared to question the merits of foreign aid entirely and “giving away” Australians’ money when inflation was rising.

“He knows exactly what he is doing with that question,” the PM said.

Mr Albanese said that only ‘teal’ independent MPs, who defeated inner-city Liberals at the May election, would benefit from the attack.

“They represent seats that have rejected that sort of dog-whistling tactic from the Liberal Party,” he said.

Mr Albanese said that taking climate change seriously had become an “entry ticket” for participation in the international community.

During the May election Scott Morrison was reported to have pursued a strategy that rested on a plan to shift the Coalition’s electoral support base by energising voters in the outer suburbs.

When he took over as leader Mr Dutton denied the Liberal Party would have to choose. 

The Opposition is making a concerted effort to tie issues back to household budgets and rising prices in a week when the government is pushing industrial relations reform to boost wages, which are rising at half the pace of inflation.

The Coalition has an ally in big business which has mounted an advertising blitz against the government’s industrial relations bill and a provision for multi-employer bargaining.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry warned of the cost of “red tape”.

Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting told a Senate inquiry into the bill that any such changes could cost the government billions in royalties.

Labor is staring down calls from the crossbench to split the bill and have Parliament tackle its contentious elements next year.

Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley called the changes “radical” and said the government was seeking to “ram” them into law.

Senate crossbencher David Pocock will likely determine its fate and said he would push for the government to lift the threshold for multi-employer bargaining because he was concerned about its impact on small business.

Businesses with fewer than 15 employees have already been exempted from the changes.

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