So it seems that Peter Dutton is part of Canberra’s “Big Swinging Dicks” club, and while he’ll be investigated over misuse of grant funds, he has the power to override any findings.
In news just in, Peter Dutton has again annoyed the piss out of the nation. Back in 2009, Glenn Milne of The Australian revealed the existence of a particular mob of notable politicians. Calling itself the “‘Big’ swinging dick club”. Members include Christopher Pyne, Steven Ciobo, Greg Hunt, Mathias Cormann, Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton.
Today, the Australian National Audit Office is considering an audit into the administration of the Safer Communities Fund overseen by the Home Affairs Minister. As the ABC noted, “In February, 7.30 revealed that Mr Dutton personally slashed millions in grant funding from organisations that were strongly recommended by his department to improve community safety, and used the funds to support his own handpicked list that did not follow his department’s merit-based rankings. Mr Dutton also used the funds to support grants for two councils — in the lead up to a by-election in a highly marginal seat — that his department recommended should not be funded at all.
“Documents obtained under FOI contain the Minister’s handwritten notes indicating that he had approved the projects because he felt they would improve public safety. These grants were awarded under round three of the Safer Communities Fund. Under the grant guidelines, the Home Affairs Minister must take into account the assessment of each project, but he can effectively overrule his department’s own merit-based assessments.”
However, Dutton running afoul of the populace is a fairly frequent occurrence, with April 2020 witnessing The Australian Border Force freely let the disease vector/cruise vessel The Ruby Princess dock, despite 140 passengers being in isolation on board.
According to Fairfax, a phone call was made to a shadowy managerial figure in the ABF, and ten minutes later, the boat was able to spew forth its spluttering cargo.
If one can assume (and not prove) that Peter Dutton was the figure on the other end of the phone, it joins a growing list of scandals with his fingerprints present. He’ll probably never be sacked, despite the numerous stackable offences (The questionable Paladin contract, the ‘African Gangs’ hysteria, charging the taxpayer $50,000 for RAAF flights, flouting the Migration Act, the au-pair scandal, the UN-rebuked treatment of those on Manus and Nauru), take your pick.
You could make the case that our parliament is a paella of meme lords, racists and clock watchers who, as fictional as they may seem, we view as people, faults and all. They’re still Australians, like us.
And then we come to Peter Dutton. The man with the impenetrable head.
Ne’er has there been a person so sharpened to a blunt object by the electorate. Even the lunatic fringe has its supporters. There is a cross-section of citizens who believe that Pauline, Lyle and Lambie represent them. And fair enough, different strokes and all that. But the hate for Dutton is universal.
If someone said that he slept upside down in a broom cupboard at Parliament House, I’d probably accept that as a half-truth. He could almost be seen as a metaphor for understanding, for what we as a nation could achieve if we all worked together – so much so, that if you attempted to bridge understanding by wearing his footwear, the bridge would be one too far. We don’t need to understand him, he just needs to leave.
Peter Dutton is the classic, cape-wearing villain, an entirely one-dimensional beast, his only function is to be vanquished by the shining forces of good. So, as he ties the damsel onto the railway tracks, we shake our fist in anger, warmed by the knowledge that justice will be done before the credits roll. But we don’t ask why he’s doing it, we just know that it’s the wrong thing to do.
To use the schoolyard example, if there’s that weird kid that everyone hates, the one that roofs everyone’s bag or spits in your lunch, you tend to feel sorry for him, or turn his behaviour into an almost admirable act, to include him, even if it’s just to exclude him. But because no-one understands, or makes an effort to bridge that gap, the behaviour gets worse, and he’s forced to face another day at school where the entire student body either outright hates him or makes an effort to ignore him. The school that young Peter attends houses 24 million students. That’s a mind-reeling number of wedgies one faces on a daily basis.
There’s an Everestian level of heaped criticism on Twitter, but the above sample will do, as they all play the same note. The once-meaningful hashtag #SackDutton has lost all meaning. Now, one could rightfully say that Dutton has earned this sustained avarice, that our reaction is adequate compensation for what he’s heaped upon Australians (and those who hope to one day be Australians), but I will say that much like when Kirk van Houten was sacked from the cracker factory, we don’t know Peter Dutton, because, frankly, we don’t want to know him. And when he’s finally let go, we won’t recall saying good luck.