Port Arthur
Political rivals and Liberal MPs have slammed Peter Dutton's comments on the Port Arthur massacre. Image by Robert Cianflone/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics

‘Really poor’: fallout mounts from Port Arthur comments

Poppy Johnston April 13, 2024

Peter Dutton has been accused of always trying to “raise the temperature” and stoke political fights after his controversial comment comparing the Port Arthur massacre to pro-Palestine protests.

The Opposition Leader’s reference to the mass shooting tragedy in Port Arthur was “really poor”, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said. 

“And he does it because his instinct is always to have the domestic political fight,” she told Sky News on Friday.

Penny Wong
 Penny Wong questioned the motivation for Peter Dutton’s comments on Port Arthur. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

Senator Wong said the Mr Dutton was always trying to “raise the temperature”.

“And his inflammatory language this week is just yet another example,” she said.

Mr Dutton compared the response to the protest – which took place just days after the outbreak of violence in the Middle East – to the mass shooting in Tasmania where 35 people were killed.

“While no one was killed during the October 9 protests, the events at the Sydney Opera House were akin to a Port Arthur moment in terms of their social significance,” Mr Dutton said in a speech on Wednesday.

His comments attracted a sharp rebuke from Liberal Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff who said such a comparison should never have been made. 

“My view is we need to be very careful and never compare the Port Arthur tragedy to anything but the absolutely tragedy that it was,” he told ABC Radio on Friday. 

Peter Dutton
 Peter Dutton doubled down on comments comparing the Port Arthur massacre to pro-Palestine rallies. Image by Steven Saphore/AAP PHOTOS 

But Mr Dutton has stood by his original comments despite the fallout.

“The point I was making – which is absolutely a legitimate one – is that I thought this was a time for the prime minister to show leadership and to step up,” he told Nine’s Today program on Friday.

“You’ve got a contrast with John Howard, who stood up at a point of national importance for our country, demonstrated leadership and changed the course of history for the better.”

After the Port Arthur massacre, the Liberal prime minister responded by introducing sweeping gun control legislation.

Mr Dutton said this was in contrast to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s failure to act to prevent anti-Semitism in the community in the wake of the Gaza conflict.