Peter Dutton says the Prime Minister and one of his ministers should apologize after being twice accused of “protecting paedophiles”.
Embattled Home Secretary Clare O’Neil was the first to try to blame Mr Dutton for the government’s asylum seeker debacle in Parliament on Wednesday, calling him a “protector of paedophiles”.
When Sports Minister Anika Wells was on the Today program on Thursday whether she agreed the opposition leader was a “protector of paedophiles”, she said: “Yes.”
During an interview, he also claimed that the “mess” began when Peter Dutton was Home Secretary.
Dutton, a former police officer who has long been a strong advocate for child safety, said the comments suggested the government was “really getting desperate.”
‘I’ve arrested sex offenders before. One of my life’s passions is ensuring that women and children are safe. I feel very genuinely and deeply about it,” she said.
‘Yes, the comments hurt, but they mean nothing to me because I know who I am.
“I think Anika Wells and the Prime Minister owe me an apology.”
‘The most frustrating part is that the government has made the decision to release the other 140 or so into the community when it was not necessary.
Approval ratings for Albanese and his cabinet are falling and Labor now polls 50:50 with the Opposition on a two-party preference basis, according to the latest Newspoll.
Dutton, a former police officer who has long been a strong advocate for child safety, criticized the comments, saying they indicated the government was “really getting desperate.”
And in an attempt to shift the blame for the High Court debacle that saw 141 asylum seekers released from indefinite detention onto the community, several ministers have sought to link Dutton to the case that sparked it all.
On November 8, the High Court ruled that the indefinite detention of pedophile rapist NZYQ, a Rohingya asylum seeker, was unconstitutional, prompting the Labor government to release dozens of asylum seekers.
Dutton said Thursday that NZYQ was the only detainee who needed to be released after the decision, and that the government preemptively released the remaining 140 people when it was not necessary.
“The government completely botched this,” he told Ray Hadley on 2GB radio.
‘The government itself has made a decision in relation to the other 140 (asylum seekers) when it was not necessary to do so.
‘No wonder they are panicking. “This is a complete and utter disaster.”
The smear was first leveled at Dutton by embattled Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil (pictured) on Wednesday and was reiterated on a live TV breakfast by Sports Minister Anika Wells on Thursday.
For weeks now, the government has been criticized for not having a draft law before the decision to deal with the possible consequences of the High Court case.
The government was forced to agree to a series of amendments to legislation to equip released asylum-seeking offenders with electronic ankle monitors and subject them to a curfew.
O’Neil used parliamentary privilege in the House of Representatives on Wednesday to claim that Dutton was protecting pedophiles because he refused to support a motion that included punishing child sex offenders caught within a distance of schools.
He also claimed that he was an apologist for child sex offenders after one of his leading supporters, Senator Dean Smith, campaigned with Immigration Minister Andrew Giles to have a convicted sex offender released into the community.
In a letter to Mr Giles, Senator Smith said the offender, whose visa was canceled due to his convictions, had sexual relations with a girl who was between 13 and 16 years old. The refugee was 21 years old at the time of his crime.
Speaking to 2GB’s Ray Hadley after the allegations were made against him, Dutton said it was “the complete opposite of the truth”, admitting that it “of course” affected him.
“I think now the government is showing that it is getting very desperate,” he said.
“He (PM) has not had the courage to say what he has sent ministers to say.”
Dutton said the Coalition voted against the proposed bill on Monday because they had tried to advocate for tighter restrictions that were not included.
‘Personal attacks… they do hurt. But they don’t mean anything to me. “It’s the complete opposite of who I am and what I believe… This is a desperate Prime Minister who is running out of options,” he said.