Peter Dutton turns to unlikely source of support after Nazi ‘question’

Victoria to ban Nazi salutes

A furious Peter Dutton has rejected any suggestion he has been less than forthright in condemning extreme right-wing behaviour, in a fiery passage of question time on Tuesday.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus accused the federal Opposition Leader – “the most senior Liberal in Australia” – of being all but invisible in a public debate on neo-Nazism after an anti-transgender rally in Victoria drew displays of the Nazi salute and calls for it to be banned.

On Tuesday, Mr Dutton borrowed a page from the book of an old foe – former PM Julia Gillard and her dressing down of Tony Abbott in what became known as the “misogyny speech” – when hitting back.

“I won’t take a moral lecture from that man [Mr Dreyfus] or indeed, that one [Prime Minister Anthony Albanese],” he said in response.

Victorian Liberal MP Moira Deeming’s involvement in organising, promoting and attending last Saturday’s Let Women Speak rally in Melbourne was swiftly condemned by state Liberal leader John Pesutto.

He is seeking to expel Ms Deeming after she spoke at the rally on the steps of the Victorian parliament. It was organised by British anti-trans activist Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull and attended by neo-Nazis, who repeatedly performed the Nazi salute.

Victorian Liberals are at odds over the expulsion push, with several voting against the idea on Tuesday. Mr Pesutto prevailed, and the motion will be voted on next Monday.

His move has also drawn criticism from the far right of politics, including from former Liberal senator Cory Bernardi. He said Mr Pesutto’s authority in the party had been wounded by statements against the rally that Mr Bernardi criticised as “woke”.

On Tuesday, Mr Dutton told the House he resented being linked to the debate on Nazi symbols after what he said had been a long record in public life of clamping down on extremism.

“I want to join with the Attorney-General in the remarks that he’s made, so far as they go to condemnation of any use of Nazi symbols – of the salute, of any glorification of that period of history,” he said.

“I would support any legislation in this parliament that you choose to move, noting you have not chosen to move any legislation … to make illegal in our country the display of any aspect of Nazi glorification.

“The slaughter of Jews and the treatment by the Nazis of people during the Second World War, the treatment today of people of the Jewish faith is an abomination.

“It is equally condemned that it would be used for political purposes in this place; it is a very poor reflection on you.

“As minister for home affairs and as the minister for defence, as a member of the national security committee, I supported every decision – in fact, encouraged, to the nth degree – [by] the director-general of ASIO to use every resource at his disposal to make sure that those who seek to propagate this to be prosecuted under the law.”

Debate following Saturday’s scenes at the Victorian parliament has led the state government to begin moving to outlaw the salute. Victorian attorney-general Jaclyn Symes has admitted it will take “some work” to get legislation right.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said banning the Nazi salute, also known as Sieg Heil, would be complex and the government would carefully draft the bill.

“There are some other jurisdictions, some European countries who have successfully been able to do this,” he said.

On Tuesday, Mr Andrews said the anti-trans rally was a “nasty” and “hateful” event long before masked men used the Nazi gesture.

“Why would you make it harder for trans Victorians? The notion that people are choosing this for fun … it’s so offensive, it’s so cruel, it’s not mainstream thinking,” he said.

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