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Dutton takes over, but has the party hit rock bottom?

by Mark Sawyer | May 30, 2022 | Lobbyland

Once upon a time John Howard was Mr 18 Per Cent. New opposition leader Peter Dutton is Mr 19 Per Cent. Monday’s West Australian front page was a reminder of how far behind the former defence minister and general Coalition hard man starts in the worst job in politics.

Dutton has an image problem, to put it mildly, outside Queensland but it’s particularly acute in WA, which won’t quickly forget how the Morrison government sided with Clive Palmer in his High Court challenge to the state’s Covid-induced hard borders.

Then there’s the iron rule (applicable since 1941, anyway) that the first person who takes the leadership of a party after its loss of government is not the person who takes the party back in to government.

Howard had been opposition leader three years in 1988 when The Bulletin ran a poll that got him the nickname Mr 18 Per Cent.  , and about to be dumped as opposition leader. ”Why does this man bother?” the magazine asked. He did bother, and the rest is history. (Although the result of Election 22 might mean that Honest John’s time as a Coalition vote-getter is finally over.)

The great conservative undead: don’t write off Dutton

Mark Sawyer is a journalist with extensive experience in print and digital media in Sydney, Melbourne and rural Australia.

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