Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Can Mr Dutton survive?

There was something quite unseemly about Australian Immigration Minister Dutton's attacks on the former Border Force commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg, accusing  him (among other things) of  "grooming" a younger woman (and here). I am no fan of Mr Quaedvlieg, but this was over the top.

How things change.

Just a few weeks ago, Prime Minister Turnbull seemed relatively secure with a functioning government that seemed to be making some progress. Then came his collapse on the National Energy Guarantee followed immediately by his decision to call a Liberal leadership spill with the aim of shoring up his position against the emerging Dutton challenge. From this came the confusing fiasco of the subsequent Dutton challenge that saw Mr Morrison become Prime Minister with Mr Turnbull exiting politics.In the end, everybody, including many Liberal and National Party Parliamentarians, was left wondering what was all that about!

I'm not fond of Mr Dutton. I dislike what I perceive to be his policies and indeed his values. I was also deeply distrustful about the creation of Border Force and the militarisation of previous civil functions. I make this point because it affects my judgments. Accepting this, I would make two points.

The first is that many in the Liberal Party must be feeling a sense of relief that Mr Dutton's challenge failed. Imagine how the Government would be coping now if Mr Dutton were PM instead of a just a Minister.

My second point is that I struggle to see how Mr Dutton can survive as Minister. I am not talking here about the visa issues including Mr Quaedvlieg's attacks. I think Mr Dutton could have survived this, although it is yet another unwelcome distraction for the Government. However. now that he has got down in the ditch to pick up scoops of mud to throw at Mr Quaedvlieg he has lost all the benefits of the high ground. I may be wrong, but I don't think that he can survive that.


Hels said...

I'm VERY not fond of Dutton. And not just because of his horrible policies and his values. But because of his destructive treatment of the progressive half of the Liberal Party and all the millions of ordinary Australians who supported the centre.

He and Abbot wouldn't know the "high ground" if they tripped over it. They both have a sense of entitlement that deserves to be blown apart by Morrison and by the voters.

2 tanners said...

Oh Jim, Jim. Leave your 30 years defunct Westminster attitudes behind you and look at Trump who will quite plainly lie in public. There are enough who find it convenient to pretend to believe him that no-one in his party dares call him out as a liar, plain and simple.

The same goes for Dutton, in spades. what if he were to resign his seat and threaten the imperilled government even further? He's got too many nuclear options up his sleeve to be threatened. Why should Dutton resign if Alan Tudge can release an activist's welfare record in Parliament without sanction? Or Joyce and two others can play pass-the-employment-parcel with Joyce's mistress? (I'm only picking LNP examples for relative currency, not because Labor hasn't committed similar egregious breaches.)

Anonymous said...

This is just getting ridiculous now. Whatever happened to dispassionate, calm, unemotional analysis of facts and circumstance? The above two comments are littered with hyperbole and violent expression - and yes, almost inevitably, trump Trump TRUMP!

Forgodsakeget a grip. Please.


Anonymous said...

Totally off topic, but just for continuing reference: Hurricane Florence....

Here's a Guardian scare-link:


Here's the PDF upon which that article seems to be based:


** note the "storm intensity" graph - in particular the atmospheric pressure forecasts.

Now, here's the live, and continually updating, actual results:


** note the mBs never actually got below 940, compared to the pdf's forecasted readings of maybe a day and a half below that figure.


Anonymous said...

Hurricane Florence update 1 p.m. - i.e. 6 hours later:

1) Florence is now a category 1 with winds of 90 mph (model predicted cat4 120+ mph)

2) Storm surge: actual now revised by National Hurricane Centre is 7-11 ft (model predicted 13 ft)

3) Rainfall (again from NHC) 20-30 inches; model:

expected to bring about 50% more precipitation, delivering as much as 20in (51cm) of rainfall in coastal areas, due to climate change.

4) "Intensity": actual - lowest recorded was 939 for one single reading, but average last 2 days well over 950 (model predicted almost 2 days under 940 mB)

5) "Storm Size": actual now: Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 80 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 195
(model predicted peak 24 hours ago: 550 km, model size now: 380-400 km.)

Summary: I can't help but feel vaguely insulted by the complete certainty expressed by the authors of the above linked "Human Influence" study:

“The idea we can’t attribute individual events to climate change is out of date, it’s just no longer true,” said Wehner. “We’ve reached the point where we can say this confidently.”

All I will politely state is that this fool's level of "confidence" is markedly different from both my own, and from the observed actrual outcomes:)


ps pls forgive if my bold and italics tags are incorrect. will re-post a corrected version once I see the errors....

Anonymous said...

Postscript: tags all ok, so I'll get out of your "Dutton/Trump is evil" thread :)

But just to note re that projected 21" of rainfall - I've had at least two periods of three days of rain delivering well over 10"of rainfall, here in my valley.

This is not in any way to downgrade the seriousness of the current situation - and I wish them well.

Carry on.


2 tanners said...


I'm not sure what your problem is. The questions was, can Dutton survive and Jim's answer was no. My response was that these days you can publicly and transparently tell lies and no-one on your side is going to call you on it. A Dutton released from Cabinet solidarity rules would be more dangerous than Dutton as a minister (to the PM).

Changing the subject, I wonder what and who convinced Lucy Gichuhi to change her mind. They've already given her an unwinnable preselection, and her old party wont want her back, so she should have felt free to open up with both barrels.

Anonymous said...

tanners, I have no particular 'problem', other than wondering about the inconsistencies in statements, most of which are made without any supporting data or reasoning.

For instance, can you not see the irony in your first response where you laugh at Jim's "30 years defunct Westminster attitudes" compared to your now flat statement that Dutton is more dangerous if "released from Cabinet solidarity rules"? And what's with "dangerous" anyway?

And then there's "horrible policies and his values" - where I assume the policies being referred to are those he carries out on behalf of the government, in what is maybe the only area of policy where the difference between right and left is negligible - and anyway, that word "values" (which is undefined but let's assume it means some vague 'goodness') assumes an intimate knowledge of the man himself, not just via reportage. Or should he have taken on his portfolio and gone completely against his government's position?

Also "a sense of entitlement that deserves to be blown apart" - references/proof please.

And of course Trump! " that no-one in his party dares call him out as a liar" - itself a flat statement so incorrect that even a simple search will disprove.

But we must get Trump! in there somewhere...


Jim Belshaw said...

I phrased my post fairly carefully, making my own biases clear. hels shares them even more strongly!

I questioned whether Mr Dutton could survive as minister. I felt that the nature of his attacks on Mr Queadvlieg made this unlikely. The form of those attacks was politically unwise, playing into fairly wide spread perceptions about Mr Dutton and compounding his growing political problems.

I think that the key immediate political question with Mr Dutton lies in the extent to which he causes political problems for the Government sufficient to over-ride the reasons for keeping him in the tent. I note that the PM seems to be digging in here, making it more difficult for him to act.

My view, for what it's worth, is that it's likely that Mr Dutton will ultimately be referred to the High Court to determine his eligibility to be an MP. At this point, he will stand down or take leave as Minister but remain in Parliament pending the High Court's decision.

All this is independent of 2t's points on the Westminster system. On Lucy Gichuhi, my feeling is that the PM has asked her for loyalty to the Party but also promised that he will take action to address her concerns.

Turning now to a different type of storm, that was quite a fascinating analysis kvd. Weather models are getting better, but they still get things wrong. And the pro climate change obsessives do no one any good by overplaying connections to current events, the media by over-hyping potential effects on current models.

21" is a lot of rain anyway. I remember one cyclone that extended south bringing 21" in 24 hours to Dorrigo. The Bellinger River exploded. We were staying at Sawtell. I remember going for a short drive just to look at the river spread across the floodplains. 21", almost two feet, is even more when the ground is already sodden. Just think of two feet of water spread across a largish area and then funneled into the streams.

Anonymous said...

Jim's post in response I can completely agree with.

I hope Dutton is referred to the HC - not because of any personal dislike for the man (I find it hard to understand anyone outside his immediate circle who would be qualified to form any such view) but more because I am a believer in process: that it must be followed; that if found wanting, it should be changed.

On Florence, I hope nobody took anything I said as a downplaying of what looks to be a major event. Like Jim I am more interested in separating exorbitant claim and extrapolation from the actual result.

I would love to see a follow up pdf, comparing projection to result - i.e. those 4 graphics need an "actual" line, and equivalent publicity, before I would take anything from those "expert" authors as reliable in future - and that's completely disregarding their wild claims about the magnification effect of human-contributed climate change.

Their flat statements as to cause and effect on a per event basis, I repeat, I find insulting to ordinary intelligence. And again, Jim's point on "media over-hype" is spot on.


2 tanners said...

Not sure what loyalty to the Party Lucy Gihuchi might have. She's only been a member for a year and wasn't elected as L/NP.

As for Dutton standing aside, I seem to recall that Barnaby Joyce felt it OK to be under reference to the High Court and to act as Prime Minister at the same time.

2 said...

And just as I speak Liberals are warning colleagues not to vote to even refer Dutton to the High Court, not because it's a political stunt, but because they might lose office i.e. they are afraid that his election was invalid and that he's not popular enough in his own electorate to win it back. https://www.canberratimes.com.au/politics/federal/liberals-warn-colleagues-move-against-peter-dutton-and-you-could-bring-down-the-government-20180914-p503tp.html

Jim Belshaw said...

As you know, kvd, I too suffer from the weakness of believing in process! I don't agree with your comment "I find it hard to understand anyone outside his immediate circle who would be qualified to form any such view." Questions of like and dislike are personal and based on multiple factors. That emotion may be affected by closer contact, but the emotion remains in the eye of the beholder

In my case my negative emotional reaction to Mr Dutton reflects my reactions to his public presentation on issues. I see him as insensitive, rigid and authoritarian and do not trust him with my own liberties. That view may shift if I knew him personally. I didn't react negatively on the visa issues, I thought that was something of a beat up whose outcome was likely to be still more rigidity in our system. I did react very negatively to the form of his attacks on Mr Q because I thought they were unwise and over the top. I suppose in that sense they reinforced my views on Mr Dutton.

Jim Belshaw said...

2t, I take your point on Mr Joyce although I have a different view. There Mr Joyce's case was (from memory) that he had legal advice from the S-G that he was okay and was relying on that. I didn't think that was unreasonable at the time. Mr Joyce could continue to act pending the High Court decision.

Quite a lot has happened since then, including the HC decision on Mr Joyce. Now here my thinking gets very muddy, so bear with me while while I try to clarify, recognising that I am not a lawyer.

At this point and as i understand it, the only way Mr Dutton's eligibility to sit can be clarified is if he or the House of Representatives refers the matter to the High Court. The position changes at the next election, for then the matter may be referred by others seeking clarification on his eligibility to stand. I would expect this to happen.

I have made my own position on Section 44 of the constitution clear in earlier posts. I think that it is an unsuitable mess creating a nonsense. I indicated certain paths that I thought that the Court could follow especially on the citizenship issue that might meld interpretation of the wording with existing conditions. For some obscure reason, that advice was not followed! Now we have to deal with the position as established by various Court decisions, recognising that the constitution is the supreme law of the land.

It is clear from the multiple legal opinions that there is an element of doubt on Mr Dutton's position. That will be resolved now or later. It is also clear that we need clarification on the pecuniary interest question.

Politically, Labor will push this issue. They may or may not get a referral to the High Court, I think that's line ball, but they will push. So the Government will bleed, knowing that it will come up anyway at the next election. I think that in the end Mr Dutton will be referred, I also think that he will stand down from the ministry pending the decision, in part because of all the issues raised in the Joyce case.

Anonymous said...

Well Jim, it must just be a coincidence that our past several ministers for "allowing only those people into Australia whom we wish to" have all been roundly criticised whilst pursuing a thankless task which is solidly supported by both left and right major parties - right?

But never mind; let's concern ourselves with pointless virtue-signalling :)


ps: and hope to high heaven that our next government of whichever flavour is not beholden to the lunatic fringe of either the left or right of mainstream.

2 tanners said...

Process to date has been followed. Parliament has not sent Mr Dutton to the High Court therefore he doesn't have to go. Jim, I think you'll find Joyce's asserted conformity to requirements was from the Prime Minister, not the Solicitor General. The Prime Minister asserted what the High Court would find, wrongly as it turned out.

We won't find out in Mr Dutton's case because they daren't send him now, and it won't come up at the next election because he'll divest those assets before then.

As a side note and in Mr Dutton's defence, I imagine the founding fathers would be puzzled at how owning a nursery centre was an office for profit under the Crown. S44 is straightforward, but its interpretation is weird.

Jim Belshaw said...

kvd, are you suggesting that I am pointlessly virtue signaling? :( I do agree with your point about the role.

Anonymous said...

Moi? Perish the thought :)

Agree totally (so there's one up against yer duckhouse!) with tanners' last comment.