• Former minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton leaves after a division in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. (AAP)Source: AAP
Labor MP Linda Burney is concerned by what a Peter Dutton prime ministership could mean for Indigenous Australians and other minorities.
22 Aug 2018 - 1:49 PM  UPDATED 23 Aug 2018 - 11:23 AM

As former Home Affairs and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton refuses to rule out a second challenge to the the Liberal leadership, Indigenous politicians have spoken out about what that might mean.

On what kind of prime minister Mr Dutton would make, Labor MP Linda Burney told NITV News his record speaks for itself. 

"I think it will be a very difficult time," Ms Burney said.

"We must remind ourselves that Peter Dutton chose to boycott the Kevin Rudd apology to the Stolen Generations," she said. 

She believes a Dutton government would not support constitutional reform for Indigenous Australians. 

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"We've seen him make comments about African youth down in Victoria and I cannot see him supporting the notion of constitutional reform, in terms of an Indigenous voice to the parliament," she said.

"I think it will bear very badly for minorities and particularly for Aboriginal people." 

Her comments come as Mr Dutton makes no secret of the fact that he's doing the numbers ahead of a second shot at the top job. 

Having resigned from cabinet yesterday, Mr Dutton was asked if he was “working the phones” to try to convince the seven colleagues he needs to tip the leadership ballot in his favour.

He lost Tuesday's leadership ballot 35 to Malcolm Turnbull's 48, and moved to the backbench.

“Of course I am, I am speaking to colleagues,” Mr Dutton told 3AW Melbourne.

“You don't go into a ballot believing you're going to lose, and if I believe that a majority of colleagues support me, then I would consider my position.”

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A string of high-profile resignations from the Turnbull government’s frontbench followed, as ministers revealed they supported Mr Dutton and therefore claimed they felt compelled to resign.

But Linda Burney says her party will not easily forget 'the Dutton record'. 

"My thoughts and thoughts of my party are not forgetting the Dutton record, and most importantly preparing and staying the course in terms of getting ready for the next election," she said. 

NT Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy was scathing of the government's dysfunction. 

"We see a divided cabinet. We see a government so hopelessly in disarray that the best alternative for a leader they could think of did not even support the national apology to First Nations people in this country," she said in the chamber on Tuesday.

In 2008, when then-prime minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generations, Mr Dutton was the only member of the Coalition frontbench colleagues not there to applaud.

He even offered to resign his portfolios to make a stand, although, he now says he regrets not being there.

The Member for Dickson made his mark as Immigration Minister throwing his weight behind Australia's offshore detention policy for asylum seekers.

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He gained more influence when he recently headed up the newly-created mega Home Affairs portfolio. 

His hardline stance is seen as the preferred choice among conservatives in his party, but has also created an image problem that could hurt his leadership aspirations. 

In January he said Melburnians were “scared to go out to restaurants” because of 'African gang' violence, and he had to apologise after being caught on camera making a joke about a meeting running on "Cape York time".

Among his more offensive comments about refugees, he once said allowing Lebanese Muslim refugees into Australia in the 1970s was a “mistake”, accusing them of being responsible for higher crime rates in Western Sydney.

Newly-elected Greens parliamentarian Mehreen Faruqhi, the first female Muslim senator, used her maiden speech to warn against the dangers of normalising racism within the major parties. 

"Some politicians call us cockroaches. Some say we are a disease for which Australia needs vaccination. Some, if they had their way, would ban us from making Australia our home," she said on Tuesday. 

She said First Nations people "still face the worst of racism and discrimination".

"We must commit and recommit to ending this, not on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities but alongside them," she said. 

"It is my belief that there must be a First Nations voice enshrined in the Constitution and a truth telling about history. A makarrata commission must oversee treaties with First Nations peoples that recognise the continuing occupation, acknowledge their sovereignty and respect their right to self-determination."

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