Peter Dutton pledges to make Liberal party a ‘broad church’ as he confirms leadership tilt | Peter Dutton

Peter Dutton has officially confirmed his candidacy for the leadership of the Liberal Party, saying he won’t allow his colleagues to become “Labor-lite” as some in the Coalition call for a more moderate stance after Saturday’s election defeat.

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said he had a better relationship with the Queensland MP than with his predecessor Scott Morrison, even while Dutton claimed Labor would be a “bad government”.

Dutton, the member for Dickson, confirmed he was running to become the new opposition leader in a media blitz on Thursday that sought to soften his image with the public.

In a statement released overnight, Dutton acknowledged his status as a political hardman through his roles as home affairs and defense minister. He said he wanted to show Australians “the rest of my character, the side my family, friends, and colleagues see”.

In the statement, Dutton’s wife Kirilly praised him as an “amazing ­father” with “a great sense of humor… an incredible compassion”. Ahead of the 2019 election, Kirilly Dutton told News Corp newspapers that he was “no monster” in defending her husband.

Dutton will run unopposed for the Liberal leadership. In his statement, he laid out his vision for running the Party and how he would take the fight to the new Labor government.

“We aren’t the Moderate Party. We aren’t the Conservative Party. We are Liberals. We are the Liberal Party. We believe in families – whatever their composition,” Dutton said.

“Small and micro businesses. For aspirational, hard-working ‘forgotten people’ across cities, suburbs, regions, and the bush.

“Things will be tough under Labor: higher interest rates, cost of living, inflation, and electricity prices. Labor talked a big game on the economy. They now have to deliver, and we will hold them to account.”

In a 2GB radio interview, Dutton said the Coalition could win the next election.

“There’s a lot of work between now and then, and the Liberal party has to get back to being the Liberal party and being the broad church and making sure that we represent all Australians,” he said.

Peter Dutton

“But with a particular focus on people out in the suburbs, people who are doing it tough, people struggling to fill up their cars, and people who are working hard and getting nowhere.”

After comments from Liberal moderates including Simon Birmingham, Dave Sharma, and Matt Kean that the Party had lurched too far to the right, Dutton said he wouldn’t be radically shifting the Coalition – but also said he wasn’t “some extreme rightwing person”.

“We can’t be Labor-lite, and we won’t be if I’m elected leader,” he said. “We’re a center-right party.”

On Thursday, Albanese praised his potential opponent as opposition leader.

“I certainly have a good personal relationship with Peter Dutton. He has never broken confidence or his word to me,” the PM said on ABC TV.

“That is a good place to start, and I certainly have an improved relationship with the future leader of the Liberal Party if that occurs. I wish him well; I want to work across the parliament, wherever possible.”

Albanese sparked a minor viral moment on social media last November when he told Dutton, “sit down, boofhead,” during an exchange in parliament’s question time.

Dutton told 2GB he had a good relationship with Albanese stretching back 20 years, saying they’d worked together “pragmatically”.

“I think he would say that we’ve got respect for each other, and I don’t agree with many of his policies. I don’t think he’s got the team around him to deliver what’s needed in the tough times we’re facing over the next few years,” he said.

Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek has also apologized after comparing Dutton to the Harry Potter franchise villain Lord Voldemort in a 4BC radio interview on Wednesday.

A spokesman for Plibersek said she had reached out to Dutton soon after the interview on Wednesday evening to “unreservedly” apologize and that she should not have made the remark.

Dutton called the comments “unfortunate” but “water off a duck’s back”.

“I don’t think you have to be nasty and mean,” he said.

In TV interviews on Thursday, Albanese said Plibersek had made a “mistake” and welcomed her apology.

“It shouldn’t have been said; we all make mistakes occasionally. ” We need to move on from them, and it is how we respond to them,” he told ABC TV.

Albanese also noted that Morrison had routinely commented on his glasses and weight loss.

“We can do better than that,” he said.

Also on Thursday, the Liberal Party confirmed former federal director Brian Loughnane and senator Jane Hume would conduct a review of the 2022 campaign, which would focus on the teal independents and candidate selection.

“The review will examine the performance of – and lessons arising for – the Federal Secretariat/CCHQ, the Divisions of the Liberal Party (including the Country Liberal Party’s campaign in Solomon), and the parliamentary team,” the Party said in a statement.

The review will specifically mention the need to examine the “long-term challenge for the Party presented by independents running in, and winning, seats from the Liberal Party.”

“In undertaking this important review, we will consult widely across all parts of the Party. We welcome input from all Party members and encourage submissions from all involved in the campaign,” Loughnane and Hume said.

Bella E. McMahon
I am a freelance writer who started blogging in college. I am fascinated by human nature, politics, culture, technology, and pop culture. In addition to my writing, I enjoy exploring new places, trying out new things, and engaging in conversations with new people. Some of my favorite hobbies are reading, playing music, making crafts, writing, traveling, and spending time with my family.