Television Interview with Natalie Barr – Sunrise – Friday 12 April 2024


SUBJECTS: Peter Dutton’s appalling comments

NATALIE BARR: Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has doubled down on his comments linking the Port Arthur massacre and a pro‑Palestinian rally at the Sydney Opera House.

This week he’s drawn parallels about the Government’s response to both events saying the October 9 protests were akin to a Port Arthur moment in terms of their social significance. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says he’s been taken aback by the comparison.

Let’s go to our politicians Jason Clare and Sussan Ley. Sussan, we’ll start with you. Do you agree with your leader comparing this pro‑Palestinian rally at the Opera House with Port Arthur?

SUSSAN LEY: Well, Nat, I want to say something about Peter Dutton as leader. Peter is a conviction politician who says what he means, not what he expects people to hear. And the fact that we’re even talking about this now, a speech of a couple of days ago, indicates the scale and significance of the events in the Middle East at the moment.

What we need is strong leadership from the Prime Minister. What we’re seeing is a rise, unfortunately, in anti‑Semitic behaviour across Australia. It takes a strong leader, like Peter Dutton, to point that out. Frankly, that’s his job.

This rise in anti‑Semitism, Nat, is appalling and when you haven’t got the leadership from the top, from this Prime Minister, whose pivotal responsibility is to make sure that emotions on both sides of this conflict do not spill over in Australia on our streets. We’re not seeing that and that’s to this Government’s discredit.

BARR: You’re right.

LEY: Jewish people have the right to show the symbols of their faith.

BARR: The rise in anti‑Semitism is horrific.

LEY: And there are armed guards at Jewish schools [indistinct].

BARR: And nobody would condone that. But would you agree with comparing that protest, that pro‑Palestinian protest at the Opera House with Port Arthur, where 35 people were killed and 23 were injured?

LEY: The point that Peter Dutton was making, there are pivotal and seminal moments in our nation’s history where leaders, where Prime Ministers need to stand up. We saw that in that time with John Howard and we changed the laws about guns in Australia forever.

Now it was about the standing up and the leadership. That’s not what we’re seeing. And you can link that directly I feel with this spill over on the streets and in society in Australia today. Because where there is international terrorism there are domestic implications, and it’s the responsibility of the Prime Minister to lead and to make sure that those emotions don’t spill over. And we’re just not seeing that leadership. My point is, Nat, we have a strong leader in Peter Dutton. If it takes a strong leader to point it out then frankly that’s his job.

BARR: Jason, your reaction?

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Wow. If you want to run the country, you can’t run your mouth. Last week Peter Dutton took the side of another country that killed an Australian citizen. This week he is using the murder in cold‑blood of 35 Australians to try to make a political point.

This bloke is all aggro and no judgment. And I feel sorry for Sussan, she’s got to defend the indefensible here. But you’ve got other Liberals like Bridget Archer, the Tasmanian MP who’s respected on all sides of the Parliament who has condemned Peter Dutton’s words here and called on him to apologise.

If there were more Liberals in the Liberal Party like Bridget Archer then Peter Dutton would be gone today.

BARR: The Opposition Leader’s also alleging that Labor and police are to blame for a rise in anti‑Semitism. Jason?

CLARE: Even more extraordinary. It shows that this bloke has no judgment at all. If you want to be the Prime Minister of Australia, your job is to work to bring the country together, not attack the police or use the murder of 35 Australians, some little kids, to try to save your own political skin.

BARR: Okay, I think we will leave it there you’ve both had your say on a pretty controversial issue.

Thank you.