Peter Dutton

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Person.png Peter Dutton   WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(spook, politician)
Sub-Regional Meeting on Counter Terrorism (31874365738) (cropped).jpg
Born18 November 1970
Alma materQueensland University of Technology
Australian politician close to the security apparatus

Employment.png Australia/Leader of the Opposition Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
30 May 2022 - Present

Employment.png Leader of the Liberal Party

In office
30 May 2022 - Present

Employment.png Australia/Minister for Defence

In office
30 March 2021 - 23 May 2022
Appointed byScott Morrison

Employment.png Australia/Leader of the House

In office
30 March 2021 - 23 May 2022
Appointed byScott Morrison

Employment.png Australia/Minister for Home Affairs

In office
20 December 2017 - 30 March 2021
Appointed byMalcolm Turnbull,  Scott Morrison

Employment.png Australia/Minister for Health

In office
18 September 2013 - 23 December 2014
Appointed byTony Abbott

Employment.png Australia/Minister for Sport

In office
18 September 2013 - 23 December 2014
Appointed byTony Abbott

Employment.png Assistant Treasurer of Australia

In office
27 January 2006 - 3 December 2007
Appointed byJohn Howard

Employment.png Australia/Minister for Workforce Participation

In office
26 October 2004 - 27 January 2006
Appointed byJohn Howard

Employment.png Member of the Australian Parliament for Dickson

In office
10 November 2001 - Present

Peter Craig Dutton[1] is an Australian Liberal Party politician who has been Leader of the Opposition since 2022.[2]

He was Minister for Defence and Leader of the House and the Member of Parliament (MP) for Dickson since 2001. Dutton previously served in numerous Cabinet roles under the Howard, Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison Governments, including as Minister for Home Affairs from 2017 to 2021.[3]

In the August 2018 leadership struggle, Dutton challenged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for the leadership of the Liberal Party, but was defeated by 48 votes to 35.[4] In the aftermath of the challenge, Dutton announced his resignation from the Second Turnbull Ministry and rejected an invitation from Turnbull to remain in the Cabinet. Following the appointment of Scott Morrison as the new Prime Minister on 24 August 2018, Dutton was re-appointed Home Affairs Minister in the Morrison Government, but relinquished his duties and responsibilities for immigration and border protection.

““It would be inconceivable that we wouldn’t support the US in an action if the US chose to take that action...maybe there are circumstances where we wouldn’t take up that option, (but) I can’t conceive of those circumstances.””
Peter Dutton (13 November, 2021)  [5]

Early years

Dutton was born in the northern Brisbane suburb of Boondall, the eldest of five children, with one brother and three sisters. His mother Ailsa Leitch worked in childcare and his father Bruce Dutton was a builder. Dutton finished high school at the Anglican St Paul's School, Bald Hills.[6] He is the great great grandson of the pastoralist squatter Charles Boydell Dutton.[7] He is also a descendant of Captain Richard James Coley, who was Queensland's first Sergeant-at-Arms, who built Brisbane's first private dwelling and who gave evidence confirming the mass poisonings of Aboriginal Australians at Kilcoy in 1842.[8]

Dutton joined the Young Liberals in 1988. He became the policy vice-chair of the Bayside Young Liberals the following year and chair of the branch in 1990. At the 1989 Queensland state election, the 19-year-old Dutton ran unsuccessfully as the Liberal candidate against Tom Burns (former state ALP leader) in the safe Labor seat of Lytton.[6][9]

Dutton graduated from the Queensland Police Academy in 1990. He was a Queensland Police officer for nine years, working in the Drug Squad in Brisbane in the early 1990s.[10][11] He also worked in the Sex Offenders Squad and the National Crime Authority.[12] As a second job, he worked with his father in a building business.[6]

In 1999, Dutton left the Queensland Police. Allegations were made that his departure was due to an incident of 'misconduct'.[citation needed] Documentation filed in the District Court of Queensland in 2000 describes Dutton's resignation as being prompted by a loss of driving confidence resulting from an incident on 4 August 1998. Dutton was driving an unmarked Mazda 626 during a covert surveillance operation. Dutton rolled his car while in pursuit of an escaped prisoner who was driving erratically. Dutton also suffered numerous physical injuries during the accident, and as a result, was hospitalised briefly and bedridden for a week. Dutton had sought damages of $250,000 from the escaped prisoner's insurance company but dropped the claim in 2005.[13]

He went on to become a businessman, completing a Bachelor of Business at the Queensland University of Technology.[14][15] He and his father founded the business Dutton Holdings, which was registered in 2000; it operated under six different trading and business names.[16] The company bought, renovated, and converted buildings into childcare centres, and in 2002 it sold three childcare centres to the now defunct ABC Learning. ABC Learning continued to pay rent to Dutton Holdings for a commercial lease until at least 2007.[17] Dutton Holdings continues to trade under the name Dutton Building & Development.[16]

Howard Government (2001–07)

Dutton was elected to the Division of Dickson at the 2001 election, defeating Labor's Cheryl Kernot. He was elevated to the ministry after the 2004 election as Minister for Workforce Participation, a position he held until January 2006. He was then appointed Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Revenue. He successfully retained Dickson at the 2007 election, which saw the government lose office. However, his margin was reduced to just 217 votes more than Labor's Fiona McNamara.[18]

Opposition (2007–13)

Following the 2007 election, Dutton was promoted to shadow cabinet by the new Liberal leader Brendan Nelson, as Shadow Minister for Finance, Competition Policy and Deregulation.[19] In 2008, he chose not to be present in the chamber during the apology to the Stolen Generations, which enjoyed bipartisan support.[15] He said "I regarded it as something which was not going to deliver tangible outcomes to kids who are being raped and tortured in communities in the 21st century."[20]

In September 2008, Nelson was replaced as Liberal leader by Malcolm Turnbull, who appointed Dutton as Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing. He retained that position when Tony Abbott succeeded Turnbull as leader in December 2009.[21] In June 2010, Dutton released the Coalition's mental health policy. The Australian described it as "the most significant announcement by any political party in relation to a targeted, evidence-based investment in mental health",[22] but not all experts agreed.[23]

Dutton retained his seat at the 2010 federal election, despite an unfavourable redistribution. In the lead-up to the 2013 federal election, he announced a range of Coalition health policies, which were received favourably by industry groups. The Australian Medical Association said "the Coalition has delivered a strong package of practical, affordable health policies that would strengthen general practice",[24] while Cancer Council Australia said that "Dutton's promise to finalise the bowel cancer screening program by 2020 would save an additional 35,000 lives over the next 40 years."[25]

Cabinet minister (2013–present)

Minister for Health

Dutton retained his seat at the 2013 election. He was appointed to the Ministry by then Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and served as Minister for Health and Minister for Sport.

As Health Minister, Dutton announced the world-leading $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund. As announced, the capital and any ongoing capital gains of the Medical Research Future Fund will be preserved in perpetuity.

Under Minister Dutton, projected funding in the health portfolio increased in the 2014–15 Budget to $66.9 billion, an increase of 7.5 percent from $62.2 billion in 2012–13, the final full year of the Labor Government. Projected expenditure on Medicare increased over 9.5 percent from $18.5 billion in 2012–13 under Labor to a projected $20.32 billion in 2014–15 under Dutton.[26][27] Funding for public hospital services increased by nearly 14 percent under Dutton in the 2014–15 Budget to a projected $15.12 billion compared to $13.28 billion in the last full year of the Labor Government in 2012–13.

In a 2015 poll by Australian Doctor magazine, based on votes from over 1,100 doctors, Dutton was voted the worst health minister in the last 35 years by 46 percent of respondents.[28]

Minister for Home Affairs

On 20 December 2017, Dutton was appointed the Minister for Home Affairs with responsibilities of overseeing the Department of Home Affairs which was established on 20 December 2017 by Administrative Arrangement Order. The Home Affairs portfolio is a major re-arrangement of national security, law enforcement, emergency management, transport security, border control, and immigration functions.

Dutton’s wealth increased significantly since he became the immigration and border protection and subsequently the Minister of Home Affairs, where his investment property portfolio saw a significant increase.[29]


In December 2019, Dutton announced that airport security measures were to be increased to detect, deter and respond to potential threats to aviation safety. Measures include greater use of canines and the deployment of extra protective services personnel armed with MK18 short-barreled rifles. Dutton appeared in a video alongside police personnel to announce the policy, sparking criticism of the potential use of police for political purposes.[30]

In March 2019, the Australian Federal Police Association had claimed that the AFP should be removed from the Department of Home Affairs to preserve its integrity and its ability to carry out investigations without government influence. Association president Angela Smith described it as "an embarrassing situation... We look the least independent police force in Australia, surely the other police forces are laughing at us."[31]

Drug lord visa

The New Zealand national William Sualauvi Betham was convicted of involvement in a drug trafficking syndicate and sentenced to 10 years’ jail by the Queensland supreme court, something that would ordinarily trigger an automatic visa cancellation. But Betham was spared deportation and allowed to live in Australia after the visa cancellation was revoked. The department returned Betham’s visa following arguments that he had been rehabilitated and was at low risk of reoffending.

The case has prompted investigations by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity following claims that Betham had boasted to a fellow detainee that he could get his visa back in exchange for financial payments[29].

Dutton said Betham’s visa matter did not “come to my office for consideration”.[32] But a departmental whistleblower warned about the conduct of Dutton in the case. The whistleblower’s complaint to the commonwealth ombudsman states that Dutton’s department prepared a ministerial briefing on the case – a claim confirmed by documents. The whistleblower said he believed Dutton’s statement was “patently false”, but acknowledged he did not know if the brief was actually provided to the minister’s office.[33]

Minister for Defence

In March 2021, Dutton was appointed Minister for Defence.[34] On 21 May 2021, Dutton directed the department and serving military personnel to stop pursuing a "woke agenda".[35]

In October 2021, Dutton said Australia will back up any U.S. effort to defend Taiwan if China attacks.[36] In November 2021, he branded the former Prime Minister Paul Keating as "Grand Appeaser Comrade Keating".[37]

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