Stop Dutton getting Defence

Published:

The Murdoch Press is backing Peter Dutton as the next Minister for Defence1 — with a Cabinet reshuffle expected within weeks.2

This potential appointment flies in the face of the Brereton war crimes report, which exposed the deaths of 39 Afghan civilians killed by Australian forces3 and identified a deep-seated culture of secrecy and cover up. The Morrison Government should be heeding the call for a new age of transparency in the defence forces.

But secrecy is the bread and butter of Peter Dutton.

He's made relentless efforts to establish a surveillance state through the expansion of ASIO powers4 and establish laws that threaten to silence the same ABC journalists who helped uncover the horrific war crimes revelations.5

The Brereton report has seen a swell of public pressure — including from Coalition MPs6 — for greater transparency in Australia's defence forces. It's up to us to join them and call out Dutton as the wrong person for the job of Minister for Defence. A groundswell of opposition to a ministerial appointment is rare, which is why we can have an outsized impact.

Can you sign the petition demanding Dutton is not Australia's next Minister for Defence?
 
Add your name! ❯

The Australian's Greg Sheridan — a renowned Liberal bellwether — claims putting "genuine heavyweight" Dutton in the role would "boost our national interest".7

Whatever we might think of war, we can all agree Dutton has proven himself to be a dangerous choice as head of the military. Especially given the need to move away from a culture of secrecy towards transparency and accountability.

Dutton gagged doctors and teachers working in detention centers from speaking out about abuse they witnessed.8 He advocated for powers that would allow him to instruct a military agency to spy on Australian citizens.9 And he advocated for jail sentences and income support cuts for protestors.10

This all combined with a track record of blatantly ignoring international law.11

The Brereton report clearly demands greater accountability and openness in the military, which is exactly why Peter Dutton's track record shows he's the wrong person for the job.

Can you help show that Dutton is completely unsuitable for the role of Defence before it's too late?

GetUp members have been pushing back against Dutton's hunger for secrecy and power for years.

Just last month, members funded a team of top barristers to review Dutton's push to increase spy powers to allow even greater tracking, surveillance and questioning of citizens. The analysis that it constituted "a chilling attack on democracy" made headlines.12

Next week, GetUp members, politicians and staff will deliver a 114,000 strong petition opposing these laws outside Parliament House in Canberra. But right now we need to put our movement between Dutton and the military.

Sign the petition to ensure Dutton doesn't get his hands on Australia's defence forces.

We need to reward the courage of whistleblowers, not imprison them. We need to applaud the journalists who work in the public interest, not raid them. And we need to respect international law and people's human dignity, not use them as pawns in our political games.

Dutton's damning resumé puts all this at risk. Add your name.

In determination,

Chandi, Renaire, Oliver and Tosca for the GetUp team

PS - The New York Times has named Australia "the world's most secretive democracy".13 The increasing powers of Australia's broader defence apparatus — from spy agencies to the new Border Force — has led Australia's own national security watchdog to call for more transparency from our intelligence agencies.14 Dutton is a major barrier to this kind of change. It's up to us to stand up to Dutton's increasing hunger for power. Sign and share the petition!

References:
[1] PM must replace Linda Reynolds with Peter Dutton at Defence, The Australian. 22 October 2020; Peter Dutton moving to Defence portfolio would be a 'very good improvement', Sky News. 5 July 2020
[2] ibid.
[3] Afghanistan war crimes report released by Defence Chief Angus Campbell includes evidence of 39 murders by special forces, ABC. 19 November 2020
[4] Dutton pushing for new ASIO powers, The Saturday Paper. 16 May 2020
[5] 'Chilling attack on democracy': proposed Asio powers could be used against journalists, The Guardian. 20 October 2020
[6] Former soldier and MP wants more oversight, The Canberra Times. 24 November 2020
[7] PM must replace Linda Reynolds with Peter Dutton at Defence, The Australian. 22 October 2020; Peter Dutton moving to Defence portfolio would be a 'very good improvement', Sky News. 5 July 2020
[8] Doctors and teachers gagged under new immigration laws, The Sydney Morning Herald. 4 June 2015
[9] Spying shock: Shades of Big Brother as cyber-security vision comes to light, The Daily Telegraph. 29 April 2018
[10] Peter Dutton accused of sounding 'like a dictator' after urging welfare cuts for protesters, The Guardian. 3 October 2019
[11] Australia's refugee policy is out of step with global standards and breaks international law: report, SBS. 13 June 2019
[12] 'Chilling attack on democracy': proposed Asio powers could be used against journalists, The Guardian. 20 October 2020
[13] Australia May Well Be the World's Most Secretive Democracy, The New York Times. 5 June 2019
[14] Intelligence agencies warned: 'secrecy can be seriously counter-productive', The Guardian. 27 Feb 2020
 
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