The Opposition leader has been slammed by Labor as ‘Double Standards Dutton’ for quietly taking a trip to India while the Coalition was ripping into Anthony Albanese as ‘Airbus Albo’ for taking four trips overseas in a month.
Photos obtained by Daily Mail Australia show Mr Dutton in New Delhi between November 1 and 4 for the India Australia Strategic Alliance summit, on the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
During the trip, Mr Dutton dined with billionaire steel magnate Naveen Jindal and wore traditional clothes on visits to temples and while cooking naan with locals.
He also met with other businesses executives and attended a gala dinner.
The trip coincided with Mr Albanese’s meeting with President Xi Jingping in China – one of four trips the PM after the unsuccessful Voice referendum – sparking a wave of ‘Airbus Albo’ criticism from both voters and the Opposition.
Mr Dutton didn’t have a crack at Mr Albanese’s overseas trips – besides telling him not to go to the APEC summit in San Francisco and instead stay and focus on domestic issues.
These pictures of Mr Dutton in India perhaps show why.
On the trip, Mr Dutton spoke of Australia and India’s close ties, of his desire for the two nations to foster a closer and deeper relationship moving forward
In parliament on Wednesday, assistant minister to the prime minister Patrick Gorman said Mr Dutton was joined on the trip by a delegation of 20 which included ‘an unlicensed real estate agent, a disgraced Liberal candidate, unregistered migration agents and property developers’.
‘I think you have a right to know about who was on his delegation, how are they selected? What did they do? Who footed the bill?’ he said.
‘And the only person actually promoting the Leader of the Opposition’s trip was the Member for Latrobe, Jason Wood.
‘He was out there showing on Facebook how great it was to be there with the Opposition Leader. At the same time, he was criticising the Prime Minister for the Prime Minister’s travel.’
Mr Gorman told Daily Mail Australia Mr Dutton’s India trip was reminiscent of ‘secret overseas trips Scott Morrison did’.
The Opposition Leader posed in a traditional bright orange scarf with local women who showed him how to cook naan bread, and flashed a smile with his hands joined in a prayer position in front of an elaborate temple.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton took a whirlwind trip to India last month on the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Pictured here with fellow Coalition MP Jason Wood (left) and Liberal Councillor for Blacktown Livingston Chettipally (centre)
Elsewhere, he was pictured at two separate functions, dining with billionaire Mr Jindal, who made his fortune operating an iron manufacturing plant and has ties with the India Australia Strategic Alliance, and at a separate gala dinner.
Mr Dutton rounded out the trip with a visit to school children. One picture shows the grinning Liberal leader leaning down to allow a young girl to try on his glasses.
According to Mr Gorman, these lighthearted snaps capturing the softer side of Mr Dutton could be the handiwork of a ‘PR firm in India’ which was reportedly hired to ‘promote’ the visit.
‘Double standards Dutton isn’t usually afraid of hypocrisy – but attacking Ministers travel while in India himself lacks any self awareness,’ Mr Gorman said.
He argued the Albanese Government is working to ‘restore Australia’s position in the world’ after almost a decade of the Coalition’s rule.
During that time, relations between Australia and some of our allies deteriorated to the point Scott Morrison ‘couldn’t even get a phone call back’ from China and was branded a liar by French President Emmanuel Macron over a botched submarine deal.
Mr Dutton seized upon his opportunity in India to indicate how Australia’s foreign policy could look with a Coalition government under new management.
Speaking of Australia and India’s already strong ties, Mr Dutton said he’d like to see more frequent military training operations – not only between our two nations, but multilaterally as well.
‘This is not a time for appeasement. Whenever we witnessed authoritarian coercion and aggression, it is vital that nations large and small link together to unequivocally condemn such behaviour,’ he said.
Speaking directly to the crises in the Middle East and Eastern Europe right now, Mr Dutton said ‘democracy is always under threat’ and indicated he’d show tougher leadership.
‘Times of terrorism have not disappeared. Recent world events are a reminder that civilization doesn’t tilt naturally towards democracy.’
And while Mr Dutton is yet to respond to Mr Gorman’s criticism of the trip, or answer and of the questions raised about the delegation, he showered the group in praise in one of the speeches he gave at the Strategic Alliance summit.
Describing the group as ‘hard workers’ who had achieved success, he said: ‘They value the rule of law, and they’ve created wealth for themselves and for their country.’
Among them were former Liberal candidates, like Virosh Perera, who during the 2022 election campaign described himself as an ‘influencer in the political arena’, and Livingston Chettipally, the onetime candidate for Chifley turned Councillor for Blacktown.
Mr Dutton visited Gurdwara Sri Bangla Sahib, a Sikh place of worship in Delhi
Mr Dutton was also pictured at a gala dinner during the whirlwind trip
Mr Dutton, in New Dehli to speak about the economy and trade, dined with billionaire industrialist and steel magnate Naveen Jindal. He is pictured here sitting at the head of the table.
Recent polling conducted by Newspoll recently found the major parties are split 50:50 on a two-party preferred basis.
Mr Dutton and the Coalition have capitalised on voter dissatisfaction over several key issues, most notably a High Court decision which allowed 142 asylum seekers – some of whom are ‘hardened criminals’ to walk free from indefinite detention.
The PM’s jam-packed travel schedule had also raised eyebrows among critics, who questioned whether it was necessary to attend so many international summits.
Mr Dutton himself called on Mr Albanese to skip APEC – which has only ever been missed by one serving PM due to a death in the family – to work with the Coalition to find a solution to the High Court mess.
Coalition MP Jason Wood (pictured right) was also on the trip with Mr Dutton
A compilation of photographs from the trip now paint a clearer picture about the itinerary, which included visiting school children, places of worship, and meeting government ministers
The Coalition repeatedly noted that the PM had made four international trips in one month – twice to the US, to China and to the Cook Islands.
And it was in the midst of this schedule, which was dominating headlines and Question Time, that Mr Dutton slipped away for the India Australia Strategic Alliance.
Meanwhile, 16 per cent of the Coalition’s party room and 26.7 per cent of their front bench were also out of the country, wrapping up a visit to London for an international gathering of conservative politicians called the ‘Alliance for Responsible Citizenship’.
That summit ended on November 1, the day Mr Dutton’s began in New Delhi.
A large delegation of MPs and Senators from the Opposition attended the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship event – a gathering of international conservative politicians, from October 28 to November 1