Peter Dutton finally crosses the line in Question Time
Source: Twitter/Anthony Albanese
Peter Dutton finally went too far.
On first assuming the job of Opposition Leader, Dutton said he had a good relationship with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
“He would say that we’ve got a respect for each other,” he said.
That goodwill has run down progressively over the past 18 months, especially during the Voice referendum.
But it took until Wednesday for Dutton to make the Prime Minister visibly, incandescently angry.
Dutton came into question time with a grab-bag of issues and an unreasonable request rolled together in a motion he intended the government to vote against.
His first concern was about the “extreme social disharmony” and displays of alleged anti-Semitism that followed the Middle East crisis and called for Albanese to “bring our country together”.
But Dutton was also concerned about the landmark High Court decision that found holding refugees in indefinite detention was illegal, forcing the release of 83 people into the community.
So concerned was he about both issues that Dutton called on Albanese to delay leaving a few hours later for a meeting with US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping until he had brought together all premiers and chief ministers.
“The Prime Minister should not leave this country until the national cabinet has convened to provide assurances and support and comfort and support to the Jewish community,” he said.
“That is the first priority for this Prime Minister not to get on yet another plane.”
The suggestion was not taken on board.
‘I didn’t think that he could go this low’
“The weaponisation or attempt to weaponise anti-semitism in this chamber and make it a partisan issue is frankly beyond contempt,” Albanese said. “Frankly beyond contempt.”
“The opportunism of the Leader of the Opposition has been exposed for all to see here today. But I didn’t think that he could go this low as to link these two issues.
“I make no apologies for standing up against anti-Semitism and I will do it unequivocally … I have a track record on this and I’m proud of it, but I also have a track record of standing up for the rights and for justice of Palestinian people.
“I make no apologies for being a consistent supporter of a two-state solution, and I make no apologies for trying to bring communities together, not divide them.”
The two passed each other in the chamber before a vote that went as expected – sunk 54 votes to 86.
Dutton said he had been concerned by the threat to social cohesion.
But an MP from the crossbench accused him of doing the opposite.
“The opposition is promoting social division, not social cohesion,” said Zoe Daniel, the MP for Goldstein.
“This is extremely dangerous. Anti-semitism must be condemned, so must playing games with an actual life-and-death situation. Stop it.”