Peter Dutton tops GetUp’s ‘hard right’ hit list for federal election

Peter Dutton is the most unpopular Australian politician among GetUp supporters, with the activist organisation now looking to extend its “hard right” MP target hit list for the upcoming federal election.

The home affairs minister, who is already facing an established GetUp campaign against him in his marginal Queensland seat of Dickson, dominated the activist group’s poll of most loathed politicians, attracting 22,028 first-place votes.

The former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott, who is also facing a GetUp campaign in his safer New South Wales seat of Warringah, came second with 15,932 votes. The Liberal National party MP George Christensen came in third with 6,090 votes.

The poll, which was launched by GetUp last week as a way of asking its members where to spend money in the coming federal election, attracted almost 30,000 votes, with the results leaving GetUp pondering extending its “vote out the hard right” campaign to other electorates.

Dickson and Warringah were also on the 2016 list, which also included Dawson, Mayo and Bass. The group claimed a partial victory in the last election, with Abbott and Dutton and Christensen all holding on, while the Liberal candidates in Mayo and Bass fell.

With the 2019 election looming, and an anti-government swing following the last leadership change now expected, GetUp is looking at expanding its activities in other electorates, with fifth-placed Christian Porter’s marginal Western Australia electorate looking like making the list.

“Peter Dutton almost became prime minister last year,” GetUp’s elections director, Henny Smith, said. “Seeing Dutton voted as No 1 target of a people-powered campaign alongside climate change denier Tony Abbott is not due to bias or personality, it’s due to his extreme views and his record of appalling policy.

“What we think is very telling is how deeply unpopular attorney general Christian Porter has become. It shows the public have been paying attention to the issues he has pursued like wanting to prosecute Witness K, a whistleblower, and instructing government members to vote for the white supremacist motion that ‘It’s OK to be white’. And we don’t think they’ve forgotten how he presided over the Centrelink robo-debt scandal either.

“The sheer volume of votes we received, and the spread across a number of MPs, means we are taking a moment now to rethink our election strategy to see whether we can campaign in a greater number of seats.”

Speaking in Brisbane earlier this week, Dutton dismissed GetUp’s impact on his electorate.

“The fact is that the Greens don’t support us on border protection, GetUp don’t support us on border protection, but most people in my electorate would see GetUp as a southern outfit run by the Greens and they aren’t going to be told what to do by suits out of the Greens movement in inner city Melbourne and Sydney,” he said.

Dutton was a surprise almost-scalp at the last election, surviving a swing against him of 5.1% and winning by just under 2,000 votes.

The poll presented 18 MPs GetUp accused of “out of date” views, including on social justice issues and climate change, with participants asked to choose the three they believed should be targeted.

Nicolle Flint, Steve Ciobo, Rowan Ramsey and Lucy Wicks sat at the bottom of the list, receiving fewer than 1,000 votes each, while Barnaby Joyce (5,065 votes) proved less popular than Porter (4,458 votes) and Scott Morrison (3,835 votes).

Kevin Andrews, Craig Kelly, Greg Hunt, Angus Taylor, Josh Frydenberg, Andrew Hastie, Michael Sukkar and Alan Judge filled out the middle.

GetUp has proven an influential force in Australian politics, despite being dwarfed by traditional political and lobbying bodies, including the union movement, through its ability to muster both funds and legions of volunteers to its campaigns.

Its previous successes has led to several attempts by the conservative side of politics to clone its methods, the most recent being Advance Australia – endeavours which have proven less successful, given fractures in the conservative movement over what to target.

But its visibility has seen attempts by the Coalition to curb its influence, most recently over GetUp’s refusal to identify as an “associated entity” of Labor and the Greens political parties.

( The Guardian)