EXCLUSIVE: He’s claimed to be more caring and in touch with his feelings but Peter Dutton has refused to comment on Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll’s evidence of widespread sexual harassment and abuse of female officers throughout the 1990s, at the very same time the Liberal Party leader was a serving police officer. Joanna Psaros reports.
WARNING: This article contains discussion of sexual abuse.
In news that will shock few Australians, it’s been alleged that Federal MP Peter Dutton’s pre-politics training ground the Queensland Police Service (QPS) has a problem with women.
Last month, State Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll told the Commission of Inquiry into the QPS she had made multiple complaints of serious sexual harassment at the hands of male officers throughout her early career in the 80s and 90s.
“I was pretty well attacked by a sexual predator on my first day of training,” the Commissioner said.
“He took me to the forest and started taking my seatbelt off and I started running back towards the station.”
“I had another senior officer who kept pinching me on the arse in the watch house.”
Other female employees also recounted sexual assaults, threats, and ongoing harassment at QPS, describing a top-down culture of abuse and misogyny involving senior police officers.
“I know of no policewoman who has not been offended against the job in one way or another,” the inquiry heard.
Peter Dutton joined the QPS at the age of 18 in 1990. Like Commissioner Carroll, he worked on the Drug Squad, as well as the Sex Offenders Squad and National Crime Commission, rising through the ranks to the position of Detective Senior Constable before leaving the force mysteriously after nine years just before he would have qualified for a pension after a decade of service.
There have been many claims made about the politician’s mysterious reasons to leave the police force. It has since been claimed by Dutton that he left the force in 1999 because he was apparently frightened of driving following a horror car crash that left him badly hurt.
RELATED: DUTTON’S DEFAMATION DISASTER! The Hypocrisy of Power
Throughout his life in politics, Dutton has rarely shied away from references to his former career- with the exception of certain key details, such as his reason for resigning mere months before being eligible for long service leave. From his maiden speech in 2002, to singing the praises of the AFP in 2021, Peter Dutton’s carefully curated tough-talking former cop image has become one of his trademarks, frequently leveraged to score political points. But on QPS’s less palatable side, he’s remained conspicuously silent.
True Crime News Weekly reached out to Peter Dutton’s office about the submissions last week, asking how it felt to hear Commissioner Carroll and other female former colleagues detailing their experiences with sexual assault, harassment, and sexism on the job. Dutton was also given the opportunity to publicly condemn employees who have been accused of enabling a culture of misogyny on the force. No response was received.
Peter Dutton’s proximity to reported cases of abuse and harassment on the QPS is not, of course, evidence of his involvement, with no suggestion he personally witnessed or engaged in any of the behaviour alleged. But the submissions do cast a somewhat different light on assumptions voiced by Dutton and his supporters about the type of men the Queensland Police Service creates.
“Peter Dutton has the worldview of a Queensland cop,” headlined a post-election op ed published by the Sydney Morning Herald earlier this year. Somewhat ironic in hindsight, it’s nonetheless an example of the implicit respect and prestige police service commands, regardless of whether it’s justified.
The Opposition Leader himself appears to go one step further. According to Peter Dutton, his experience at QPS is not only evidence of service to the community. It’s evidence of his attitude and service to women.
On the MP’s police work, Peter Dutton’s official website highlights the former officer’s services to certain categories of citizen. “For nine years, Peter served his community as a Queensland Police Officer … with a focus on protecting women and children,” asserts the bio vaguely.
This suggestion of a desire to protect women being uniquely personal to Dutton – as opposed to a base-level expectation for any competent cop – was expressed even more bluntly in his two-year lawsuit against refugee advocate Shane Bazzi.
In defamation proceedings which sought to (unsuccessfully) disprove the statement “Peter Dutton is a rape apologist,” Dutton attempted to use the former cop’s experience working on the QPS Sex Abuse Squad as evidence of above-average respect for women and disavowal of sexual assault.
RELATED: ELECTION ERECTION! Dutton goes feral with Yellow Peril
A rape apologist is “the opposite of who [Dutton] is,” in part because of his service history “bringing rapists to justice and supporting victims of rape,” his legal team told the court.
Questionable logic aside (following this argument, all police officers are also averse to drug use and domestic violence), facts unearthed by the inquiry and other documents now indicate the QPS’s woeful failure to protect the women they purport to serve- and serve with.
As well as an underfunded and underperforming domestic violence command, the inquiry heard multiple examples of officers who were not disciplined for bullying and harassment on the job, and in some cases were even promoted.
A 1995 internal publication titled “Ethical Conduct and Discipline in the Queensland Police Service” provides further details about a longstanding culture of silence and impunity for police misconduct at the time.
Officer Dutton on duty: Liberal Party leader Peter Dutton pictured in his days as a serving Queensland police officer (Image: Supplied)
In one hypothetical that involved an on-duty officer making an unauthorised rego check of an attractive woman, less than 5% of officers surveyed said they would formally report the behaviour. Among the sixty-five experienced officers surveyed, it was 0%.
“The prevailing organisational and occupational “culture” exerts a powerful influence on new recruits in the QPS, especially in respect to the reluctance of police to report misconduct by other officers,” the report concluded.
Regardless of the stats, there’s no doubt many male QPS officers have themselves been targeted or otherwise affected by this reportedly toxic working environment. When put to Peter Dutton however, he declined the opportunity to come forward or express support for other QPS officers brave enough to speak up.
It seems Dutton is still a committed member to the Code of Silence and Code of Brotherhood that permeates the police force in all states and territories across Australia.
Dutton’s silence is all the more curious given his recent vocal shows of solidarity with women he’s not personally connected to. Earlier this year, the politician created a stir when he claimed that Labor’s proposed abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) was tantamount to “condoning” the harassment of female tradies.
RELATED: JOSH ALSO ALLEGED TO HAVE TUDGED MILLER! Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s unwanted kissing & groping said to be key reason for ScoMo cover-up of Rachelle Miller report
The fact that Dutton’s position is shared by the property and construction industry, representing some of the Liberal party’s biggest donors – not to mention an easy shot at political rival Anthony Albanese – was surely coincidental.)
And showing his famed humanitarian side, in January the politician called on high-profile celebrities to “speak up” against the Chinese government’s alleged oppression of tennis star Peng Shuai. (Shuai had at the time withdrawn her allegations.)
Closer to home, a matter that has not drawn comment from Peter Dutton is the issue of racism within the QPS.
“Attacked by a sexual predator on my first day of training”: Qld Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll
Just last week, ex-Police sergeant and proud Meriam, Kaurareg, and Gudang man Richard Monae made headlines with a scathing open letter claiming that racism in the QPS is worse today than when he first joined 26 years ago.
His story echoes evidence of extensive racist language and behaviour in the service, with the inquiry last month hearing one sergeant told police recruits “You can smell them [First Nations People] before you see them.”
In 1994, six police officers in Queensland’s Fortitude Valley picked up three young Murri boys, driving them in paddy wagons to secluded bushland before taking their shoes and abandoning them. None of the boys had committed a crime.
Knowing what the public knows of Peter Dutton the politician, it’s perhaps not impossible to imagine a man who accused refugee victims of rape of “trying it on” for visa purposes, who claimed “African gangs” were terrorising Melbournians, and who Brittany Higgins told courts she was “terrified” of discovering her sexual assault, becoming caught up in this documented culture of racism and misogyny. But for now, that’s all we can do given Dutton’s publicly clean record on the matter. That and the fact he’s incredibly litigious.
Dutton’s political predecessor as leader of the Liberal Party was of course Scott Morrison, who many suggested received an easy ride from the media about his professional career before politics, which was mired in controversy as well as credible claims of alleged fraud and accounting irregularities while head of both Tourism Australia and Tourism NZ. Following his ousting as prime minister in the middle of this year, Morrison’s former boss at Tourism Australia – then-Tourism Minister Fran Bailey – said she had been bullied by ScoMo and that his behaviour resulted in a “complete lack of trust.”
Meanwhile, unless more officers are prepared to name names, it seems that only Peter Dutton will know his role within the Queensland’s Police Service and his thoughts and feelings about the culture of abuse and consequence-free harassment that took place throughout his formative years as a young police officer. And he’s not talking.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, relationship or family violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT. org.au
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636
Blue Knot Foundation – 02 8920 3611
– Additional reporting and research by Serkan Ozturk
Be the first to comment