The sprawling electorate of Dickson in Northern Brisbane is Ground Zero for the coming election; pivotal for the future of the country.

Every major media organisation has sent journalists to the seat; almost all of them with an agenda to discredit and if possible help unseat the sitting Member — Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

And they all had the same problem: Oddly, perhaps, for a man with a kind of Darth Vader presence in the national parliament and reviled by swathes of Australia’s left, Dutton is seen as a good local member.

On the streets and in the pubs, there is not the visceral dislike all these journalists expected to find.

His electoral office is remarkably homey. Hundreds of cards from local children decorate the reception area, and framed certificates of appreciation from every community group imaginable line the corridors.

The staff are quiet, friendly.

Bets on the date and weight for the recent birth of a daughter to one of the staff, a first time dad, give a family feel.

They are loyal to their man. And they know full well he is under siege.

It is noticeable that as the campaign has progressed, the left campaign by GetUp targeting Peter Dutton is facing ever stronger resistance. The group’s local credibility has plummeted during the course of the election.

Touted as a future leader of the conservatives, if Peter Dutton loses his seat the Liberal Party may well lose, probably forever, its socially and economically conservative base.

And their strongest champion.

But if the Liberal Party loses its base Australia is likely to become increasingly politically unstable as former Coalition voters desert to minor parties more willing to embrace their concerns over excessive regulation, mismanagement of mass migration and loss of national identity.

What They Say in the Pubs. Voices of Dickson Part I. Click to Play.

These people, pilloried as right wing, are hard working, socially conservative and disenchanted with the obsessions of the left, global warming, multiculturalism, refugees, identity politics, and could destabilise Australian politics for decades to come.

Australia, despite all the official prattle about diversity, has never been more divided.

And the same holds true of Dickson, which hangs by a knife-edge.

But changing demographics, electoral redistribution and shifting political tides mean the seat is now marginal.

Dutton holds the seat by a narrow 1.6%, some 1500 votes.

If Dutton loses the seat he has held since 2001 his opponents will dance on his grave.

As the election has progressed the campaign targeting Peter Dutton has faced ever stronger resistance from voters.

GetUp’s local credibility has plummeted. Its focus on traditional left concerns including refugees, global warming and indigenous disadvantage rather than the issues facing working people is backfiring.

The animosity against Peter Dutton drummed up by the left is not evidenced on the streets and in the pubs.

The Voices of Dickson Part II. Running to Stand Still. Click to Play.

A highly intelligent man, Dutton has become one of the most reviled and polarising figures in Australia today for his strong stances on border control and against high immigration rates. It is as if common sense has been banished to the political margins.

In person Dutton is a little like your ultra-straight, ultra-conservative uncle.

It is bizarre to think he has never so much as had a cup of coffee. A party animal he is not. But he is just the sort of person you would turn to in a crisis.

The concerted campaign against Dutton is deliberately hurtful, deeply personal and in many ways misguided.

There has been a grotesque manipulation of public debate from all sides of politics.

But at moments like this, when history is on the turn, the truth will out.


That, essentially, is what it is all about.

Dutton first joined the Liberal Party in 1988. He was 19-years-old when he first ran unsuccessfully for political office in the Queensland state elections.

In 1990 he graduated from the Queensland Police Academy and spent much of his nine years in the Service in the drug squad.

It’s not that hard to find likely lads in his electorate who remember being busted by him.

Dutton seized the Electorate of Dickson in 2001 and has held it ever since. He was rapidly promoted to the Ministry.

There is a strange sense about it all, not that Dutton is the man who would be king, but that destiny has placed him there.

That at a perilous time in the nation’s history a “firm hand at the tiller” as even some of his detractors describe him, is all that will save the country from the hard times many in the country fear is about to destroy them.

Statistically Dickson is Middle Australia.

Only 20 years ago much of the electorate was pineapple and dairy farms, or dense bush reaching up to the subtropical forests of the D’Aguilar Ranges.

These days it straddles everything from classic suburban streets to rural hinterland. A new, bright, bursting ahead landscape has been carved out of open paddocks.

It is a visually scrappy electorate, full of garages and mechanics, Bunnings and Supercheap Auto, KFC, McDonalds and Subway.

Dickson is industrious from one end to the other; people building lives, factories, warehouses, getting to and from work, going about their business. Protecting their own homes.

The electorate has the same feel Sydney had 25 years ago. All you have to do is work hard, do the right thing and you will get ahead.

There are not the same pockets of vivid urban decay you see in other parts of the country, the crowded ethnic enclaves or collapsing underclass of Sydney or Melbourne. Nor is there the same deep disillusionment with government. As recent studies show, Australia wide faith in democracy has hit catastrophic lows.

Dickson is quintessentially suburban.

With few exceptions, it doesn’t have areas of either the uber rich or the collapsing underclass seen elsewhere in Australia.

It is a house proud hard working world of lawns, children, schools.

The Voices of Dickson. Someone to Lead. Part III. Click to Play.

In the expansive electorate, which covers 724 square kilometres, there are 30 schools, 41,000 traditional family groupings and 101,000 voters out of a total population of 146,200.

It is a world away from the patrician, aristocratic realm of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Here the close association with the Big End of Town which has poisoned the Liberal Party’s appeal is a distant echo.

There is little public transport or high density housing.

Here roads matter; and are a live political issue.

Ironically for a government minister, much of the flack Dutton faces is generated by taxpayer funded groups, including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and a plethora of refugee lobby groups.

All have done their utmost to demonise him.

Dutton’s previous incarnation as Immigration Minister has meant that a activist groups, including the well funded GetUp, are spending significant funds to unseat him.

False narratives about Peter Dutton him have been allowed to run in the mainstream media for months, years depending on how you count it.

The most potent and damaging of these has been that he is the man responsible for keeping the children of refugees behind barbed wire on the islands of Manus and Nauru, an offshore processing facilities.

But as Dutton points out, this is a legacy issue bequeathed to him from the previous government. In fact during his time in office he has closed 17 detention centres.

“I have never put a single child or adult in detention. Many of the people pillorying me are well intentioned. But they have been very badly misled.”

Dutton is surrounded by enemies within and without.

Whether he survives the coming election and seizes his destiny lies in the hands of the gods.

And the people of his electorate.

All he can do is hope they are kind.

The electorate is either switched off or pissed off. They love him, hate him or have no idea who he is.

Dutton’s fate lies in their hands.

These are the voices of Dickson.


At the Australian Federal Election held on the 18th of May, 2019, Peter Dutton held the Seat of Dickson with a swing towards him. Final figures will not be known for some days.

Written and compiled by John Stapleton, editor of A Sense of Place Magazine. A collection of his journalism can be found here.