Peter Dutton has slammed the ABC’s “double standard” for not taking the Attorney-General to task over for blowing up at a reporter at a press conference.
Speaking on Thursday, the Opposition Leader insisted if the exchange had a Coalition minister involved, the ABC would have “been all over it”.
“If it had been a Liberal or National politician, the ABC would have been all over it as misogynistic and mansplaining and talking over a female journalist,” he said.
“Mark Dreyfus went on the 7.30 report last night … guess how many questions he got about his conduct at the press conference … not one of course.
“It’s a complete double standard.”
Mr Dreyfus found himself in the headlines after he lost his cool at Sky News reporter Olivia Caisley amid a grilling about Labor’s response to the detainee saga.
The High Court ruled last month that holding non-citizens in indefinite detention was unlawful.
It resulted in the release of almost 150 immigration detainees, including a number who have been convicted of violent crimes, into the community.
Four individuals released from detention are facing fresh charges.
“Do you owe an apology to those in the community that have been subjected to misdeeds by some of these people?,’’ Ms Caisley had asked.
To which he responded: “I want to suggest to you that that question is an absurd question”.
“You are asking a cabinet minister, three ministers of the Crown to apologise for upholding the law of Australia for acting in accordance with the law of Australia for following the instructions of the High Court of Australia.”
An interjection from Ms Caisley led him to wag his finger at her and bellow: “Do not interrupt”.
“I will not be apologising for acting in accordance with a High Court decision.”
The Attorney-General has since reached out to the reporter.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during Question Time on Thursday said Mr Dreyfus had “apologised and had a courteous discussion” with Ms Caisley.
“When our standards aren’t met in this place that we expect, that’s the appropriate course of action to take,” Mr Albanese said.
But Mr Dutton took issue with the fact Mr Dreyfus was not asked his conduct when he fronted up for ABC’s 7.30 later that evening.
Instead, only the “politics of the issue” that “reflected in the exchange” was noted by host Laura Tingle.
Mr Dutton said it was now on the Prime Minister to “show leadership” address community concerns over community safety and “stop being so woke on all of these issues.”
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek came to Mr Dreyfus’ defence early on Thursday morning and pointed the finger at Mr Dutton’s own track record.
“It’s been labelled by Peter Dutton as misogynistic, which is pretty ironic given the sort of behaviour we see particularly from Sussan Ley everyday in question time,” she told Sky News.
“Things get pretty heated, and they are in their boots and all, when you see some of our women ministers up at the dispatch box, I think it’s frankly a bit rich from their behaviour to be calling out the Attorney-General.”
Mr Dreyfus’ interview with the ABC came hours after the incident but before the government’s preventative detention laws – which hands the courts the power to re-detain the worst offenders in the cohort – passed the parliament in the dead of the night.
Mr Dutton accused the government of using its numbers in the lower house to “rush” the measures through.
“We tried to amend to make them stronger, and to make it harder for these criminals to be out in the community,” Mr Dutton said.
“But the government wasn’t interested in that and they used the numbers to drive it through, so here we are.”
The laws are closely modelled on the preventative detention laws introduced by the Coalition to lock up terrorists – which were upheld by a High Court challenge in 2021.
Mr Dreyfus later denied the government had been panicked into the regime by the Coalition’s populist politics.
“I regret the … populist politics from the Opposition,” he said.