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Dutton unrepentant on criticism of courts


Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is not backing down from his persistent criticisms of Australian courts after copping a spray from retiring colleague George Brandis.

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In a valedictory speech on Wednesday evening, the former Attorney-General scolded “political colleagues” including Dutton for failing to understand the courts and attacking the rule of law.

Dutton said it was no secret the pair had clashed over the years.

“People can criticise. It can be veiled. They can have the determination to try and undermine what I’m doing. All of it makes me more determined to make sure we keep going,” he told 2GB radio today.

“In the end, I want a safer society for our country.”

Dutton has long railed against “pathetically weak” decisions made by judges and magistrates in state courts, including what he sees as “soft sentences” handed down in response to Victorian gang crime.

Last week, he suggested the public should play a role in electing judicial officials.

Dutton insisted on Thursday he’d been very careful in his comments on issues of legitimate concerns to the public, claiming the legal system had let Australians down.

He said it was important politicians and lawyers did not believe they were better or smarter than the general public.

Asking whether Brandis fell into this clique, Dutton said: “People can draw their own conclusions.”

“All of us respect the institutions, the courts, and we live in a great democracy,” he said.

“I think the court is a stronger institution if it has strong public support.”

Brandis wrote to the upper house president on Thursday morning to formally resign, ahead of taking up his new role as Australia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom next month.

The resignation takes immediate effect and his Queensland seat will be filled by a casual vacancy.


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