Who’d want to be the member for Dickson?
Liberal MP Peter Dutton should have known better than to whinge about support from the good people of Dickson – he could’ve asked his predecessor Cheryl Kernot about that one.
On election night 1998 - when it looked like her attempt to go from Democrat leader in the Senate to a Labor MP was going to end in spectacular failure - Kernot had a famous dummy spit live on the ABC about the quality of seat she had been given by the Labor Party :
“Well, I’ll just say this—Mary Delahunty is in Parliament,” referring to the fact that the Victorian MP had been given a safe seat when entering politics earlier that year. Of course, Kernot did end up pulling ahead that night and serving one term as the member for Dickson but got rolled three years later by none other than current opposition health spokesman Peter Dutton.
Now it’s Dutton who has to return shamefaced to the people of Dickson after his attempt to run in the safer seat of McPherson on the Gold Coast failed.
“Some will say the right political decision was made,” he told a press conference in Canberra today.
“But the execution - and that’s in the past - was the issue. My focus is moving forward.”
What Peter Dutton is moving forward into is an election in which his seat is now notionally Labor and has indicated that he would be far prefer being somewhere else.
This is the political equivalent of dumping your wife for another woman, being dumped by the other woman, coming back home and asking your wife if you can move back home only to discover she is with another guy – at least on a notional level.
Dutton pointed out that his family ties in the seat extended back to the 1860’s, which is interesting but probably further begs the question at to why he left in the first place.
Still Dutton’s problem is certainly not one completely of his own making.
The role of the National Party in Queensland’s Liberal National Party in undermining the promising Liberal’s bid for a safer seat was huge.
In the atmosphere of heightened tension around the ETS, a lot of Dutton’s treatment was simply about telling Malcolm Turnbull that he couldn’t just send in one of his men in and not give the Nationals a say over it.
In that sense Dutton’s problems personify the current disarray of the Coalition.
I’m not sure who’d want to be a Liberal MP at the moment, let alone the member for Dickson.
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