No Proof in the Pudding: Dutton Grilled Over his Restaurant Fear Claims

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has been grilled over the veracity of his controversial claims that Victorians are “scared to go out to restaurants of a night time because they are followed home by these gangs”.

When challenged on radio station 3AW to provide evidence, Mr Dutton said he had spoken to a “number of people” and parliamentary colleagues, but only specified fellow federal MP Jason Wood.

Mr Dutton again attacked the Andrews government for its handling of youth crime but in the evening interview, he was repeatedly challenged to back up his claims with evidence.

When Mr Dutton repeated comments made on Sydney station 2GB on Wednesday that he did not want to see people get hurt or “followed home from restaurants”, he was rebuked by 3AW presenter Nick McCallum, who accused Mr Dutton of  trying to score “political points” during an election year in Victoria.

“I don’t think it helps when a federal minister says something like that and can’t back it up, having not spoken to the people themselves and relying on another federal MP who is a Liberal to tell him that sort of information,” Mr McCallum said. “It seems to be exacerbating the problem.”

However, Mr Dutton repeated his claims that people were “sick of politically correct language” and that a minority of people in the African community in Victoria were creating problems.

Earlier on Thursday, acting Premier Tim Pallas accused Mr Dutton of trying to whip up hysteria with his interview on 2GB. On Wednesday, Mr Pallas described Mr Dutton’s comments as desperate and wrong.

“We take our advice on these matters from Victoria Police, not from desperate politicians propping up a desperate prime minister and his desperate government,” Mr Pallas said.

Federal Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese also blasted Mr Dutton’s comments on the Sydney radio station.

“I was in Melbourne last night. I didn’t notice any reluctance of people on the streets of Melbourne to go out and this morning I haven’t seen any reluctance when I’ve been travelling to and from meetings here in the CBD as well,” he said.

Mr Albanese said the Home Affairs Minister was “playing to the crowd on Sydney radio about Melbourne” and did not make sense or address crime issues.