Peter Dutton talks big on women’s safety without saying much

Peter Dutton talks big on women’s safety without saying much

Peter Dutton Federal Budget reply 2024

Not enough was offered by the Albanese Government in this week’s Budget for responding to the “national crisis” of domestic and family violence

But it appears to be far more than what a Dutton Government would do, according to Thursday night’s Budget reply from Opposition leader Peter Dutton, despite some Coalition members speaking frankly and passionately about the issue. 

Dutton spent far more time during his speech on the issue of family and domestic violence than Treasurer Jim Chalmers did during his Budget speech on Tuesday. But Dutton’s focus on promises to address bail laws and knife crime if elected, fell short of addressing the funding required for frontline and legal services.

Two weeks ago, Dutton said he’d support a Royal Commission into domestic and family violence, while the Albanese Government has downplayed the need for such a commission.

As Dutton told Brisbane radio station 4BC at the time, “I think there’s a strong argument for a royal commission if we know that it’s going to produce the evidence that can give us a pathway and an answer to [this] scourge.”

Adequate funding to support frontline services and legal services would be a good start for addressing the scourge, and should come well ahead of a Royal Commission — especially as there is an existing plan in place for ending domestic and family violence.

The Albanese Government isn’t providing enough such funding.  

But the Opposition hardly even mentioned it

Dutton endorsed the “extension of emergency payments” for those fleeing violence as one of the few aspects of Chalmers’ 2024 Federal Budget that his party would support, noting that the Coalition first established the initial version of this payment program back in 2021. 

He mentioned Molly Ticehurst during his speech, the 28-year-old mother from NSW who was allegedly murdered by her former partner, while he was on bail.

Dutton shared his experiences as a former police officer, encountering “horrific scenes of beaten women and distraught children”, noting they are scenes that stay with him to this day. 

He also shared the memories he has of taking women “with fear to shelters and safe homes – and helping them relocate with their children to safety.” 

“It’s why I’ve dedicated much of my career to protecting women and children,” he said. 

Dutton declared that “bail laws need to be tightened” and that under his Coalition Government, they will be. But bail laws are the responsibility of the states and territories, and many would argue they need to be tightened now, just as the NSW Government has addressed this week, rather than being delayed as an election commitment. 

Dutton talked up the role of the Commonwealth in offences relating to partner and family violence, stating that his government would make it an offence to use a mobile phone and computer networks to cause intimate partner or family members to fear for their personal safety – to track them using spyware or engage in coercive behaviours. In many states and territories, aspects of these things are already offences. 

Budget reply speeches are about politics and oppositions rarely put “meat on the bone” of their plans, as Annabel Crabb put it in her ABC column on Dutton’s response today

But this is Dutton’s third such reply and his last before an election.

This year’s reply could have created a powerful opportunity for Dutton to talk up his commitment to ending domestic and family violence, and responding directly to what he witnessed during his former career as a police officer.

It could have been his opportunity to go further than the Albanese Government, especially around funding the services that, by his own admission, he knows support women fleeing violence. He could have done this by putting in more detail and commitments to highlight what his story could be as a leader. And he could have done it without having to get too granular and specific about just how much it would cost.

If he can’t even do this in a Budget reply speech, what could we ever hope from an actual Dutton Government?

If you or someone you know is experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, domestic, family or sexual violence call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732, chat online via or text 0458 737 732.

If you are concerned about your behaviour or use of violence, you can contact the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 or visit


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