‘Scot free’: Dutton brushes Turnbull thug dig

Peter Dutton has responded to Malcolm Turnbull's comments labelling him a
Peter Dutton has responded to Malcolm Turnbull's comments labelling him a "thug".

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has responded to former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull labelling him a “thug” and someone unsuitable to be the nation’s leader.

“I don’t have any contest with Malcolm Turnbull. He appointed me to be Home Affairs Minister … he never had a terse word or derogatory words against me,” Mr Dutton told 2GB on Thursday.

Appearing on The Project on Sunday night, Mr Turnbull said Mr Dutton becoming Prime Minister was “something we should contemplate with dread”.

He then added: “Well, he’s a thug”.

“Peter’s got one tune that he plays and it’s been all his political life and that is division and animosity, generally targeted at immigrants,” said Mr Turnbull.

“I couldn’t think of anyone less suited to be prime minister of a multicultural society like Australia.”

PETTER DUTTON
Peter Dutton was labelled ‘a thug’ by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Picture: NewsWire/ Martin Ollman

Mr Dutton – who threw his hat in the ring for the 2018 leadership challenge won by Scott Morrison – said people would be able to “see through” Mr Turnbull’s comments on The Project and said he “wished him the best”.

The Liberal leader, who is in the US for the Australian American Leadership Dialogue, told 2GB his fight was “against Anthony Albanese,” not Mr Turnbull.

However, pushed by host Ray Hadley, Mr Dutton joked the former prime minister’s comment were likely the “nicest thing that he’s said about any Liberal in recent times”.

“So relative to what he what he says about other Liberal party members, I’ve got off scot-free,” Mr Dutton said.

“Malcolm’s a highly educated person – as he’ll tell you. It’s a pretty rudimentary sort or basic comment, I think he could come up with something much more sophisticated than that.

“I think for the former leader of our party, I want to do nothing more than hold them up and praise them because they’ve led our party and they deserve that respect but when you diminish yourself in this way, I just don’t think it helps his legacy or public standing.”

NPC: Malcolm & Lucy Turnbull
Mr Dutton joked Mr Turnbull’s comments were the ‘nicest thing that he’s said about any Liberal in recent times’. Picture: NewsWire/ Martin Ollman

Earlier on Thursday, the former NSW Liberal state executive member Matthew Camenzuli blasted Mr Turnbull for his comments.

“I think it’s all about authenticity, but it’s about the party, sticking to its purpose and backing in its leader.”, he told 2GB host Ben Fordham.

“When you start to see the sorts of things that we’ve been saying recently, it gives the public cause for concern.”

Fordham reported leaked emails addressed to the state executive called on the party to “expel Malcolm Turnbull from the Liberal Party”.

Mr Camenzuli, who was expelled from the party in 2022 after taking then prime minister Scott Morrison to court over preselection processes, said he believed Mr Turnbull should be expelled.

“I like the idea of the Liberal Party being a party that is really about libertarian values and conservative values coming together … the problem is the broad church can’t be so broad as to include sympathisers with your opposition,” Mr Camenzuli said.

“When the Liberal Party includes people that prefer the Labor Party, they probably don’t belong in the Liberal Party.”