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Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has hit back at Peter Dutton after the Liberal leader claimed he made a ‘mistake’ in walking out of the National Apology to the Stolen Generation.
Dutton boycotted Rudd’s apology to Indigenous Australians in 2008, however, told reporters on Monday (May 30) that he walked as he believed the apology shouldn’t have been given until problems were resolved.
Dutton was one of only a handful of Liberal MPs who walked out of the apology at the time.
But Kevin Rudd isn’t buying Dutton’s apparent u-turn on his decision.
In an article he wrote for The Canberra Times, Rudd said: “I don't believe him. More likely he regrets how the Apology brought our country together, rather than inspiring widespread dissent among white Australians as many predicted.”
He added: “What he truly regrets is his damaged reputation, as he now opportunistically pivots from the far right (where he built his career in the Liberal Party) towards the political centre through a cosmetic makeover.”
Rudd says Dutton took his boycott so seriously that he even offered to resign from the frontbench of the coalition.
Rudd also criticised Dutton’s attitudes toward other Australian matters such as poverty, disability, climate change, and LGBT rights, and called him ‘‘indifferent to other perspectives.
On Monday at a press conference after being elected Liberal leader, Dutton told reporters: “Many of you have lived out in regional areas and many of you haven't. I worked in Townsville,” he said, as per the Australian Financial Review.
“I remember going to many domestic violence instances, particularly involving Indigenous communities, and for me at the time I believed that the apology should be given when the problems were resolved and the problems are not resolved.”
The fact that Peter Dutton walked out on the apology to the Stolen Generations tells you everything you need to know about his character and values.— marquelawyers (@marquelawyers) May 26, 2022
Dutton noted that he would be united with Albanese’s Labor government to improve the conditions and lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia.
He added that he would be open to discussions about a proposed body of Indigenous people to advise Parliament on decisions pertaining to First Nations Australians.
In reference to his 2008 walk-out, he continued: “I understand the symbolism and I made that mistake.
“But for me it came from a place where I just find it unbearable to think that those little kids are facing that situation or women are facing significantly higher domestic violence circumstances and realities in those communities.”
During an appearance on the ABC’s Q&A in 2010, Dutton claimed he didn’t regret his decision to walkout as he believed the apology was simply ‘tokenism’.