How Peter Dutton made his millions
PETER Dutton is working overtime to convince Australia that he has a "down-to-earth" side that simply isn't immediately obvious.
The 47-year-old enjoys a drink, watching the kids play footy and sharing the odd self-deprecating joke, he has revealed. He cannot name an AC/DC song, but only because he is sleep-deprived.
In fact, the man pushing to be the next Prime Minister differs from the average Australian because of his significant wealth.
He bought his first property at the age of 18 and he and wife Kirilly have built up a portfolio, which includes a $2.3 million, four-bed mansion in Palm Beach, on the Gold Coast's "Millionaire's Row", and a Townsville shopping mall.
They live on a two-hectare block at Camp Mountain in Mr Dutton's electorate, with their sons Harry, 14, and Tom, 12. Mr Dutton also has a 16-year-old daughter, Rebecca.
They have purchased other properties in Queensland and Canberra.
Mr Dutton is the eldest of five children. His father Bruce was a builder and mother Ailsa Leitch worked in childcare.
He was an industrious youngster, who delivered newspapers and mowed lawns, forging his respect for individualism, reward for achievement and traditional values.
After finishing high school at the Anglican St Paul's in Brisbane, he joined the Young Liberals and studied at the Queensland Police Academy while helping his dad with building projects.
He spent nine years in the police force, working with the drug squad and sex offenders squad, before leaving in 1999 to gain a Bachelor of Business from the Queensland University of Technology.
In 2000, Bruce and his son registered a business, which bought buildings and converted them into childcare centres.
Mr Dutton won the seat of Dickson, in north-west Brisbane, from Labor's Cheryl Kernot in 2001, before becoming Minister for Workforce Participation and then Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Revenue.
He married his first wife aged 22 but the relationship ended after a few months. He had his daughter with another partner before marrying Kirilly Brumby in 2003, with whom he has two sons.
In June 2007, he was forced to deny a conflict of interest relating to his childcare centre business when Labor said he had "serious questions to answer", the Courier Mail reported.
Penny Wong urged then-Prime Minister John Howard to investigate whether he had breached the code of conduct and profited personally from policy decisions.
Mr Dutton said ABC Learning Centres paid rent of $100,000 a year for a former church which the Duttons bought, renovated and turned into a childcare centre. Dutton Holdings sold it and two other childcare centres to ABC Learning in 2002.
"I am proud of the business I was in and built up from nothing," said Mr Dutton. "Everything has been declared … I have been perfectly open about this from day one."
He also confirmed he had received two donations, $5000 and $10,000, to his election campaign from ABC Learning boss and Brisbane businessman Eddy Groves, in 2004.
The same month, Labor attacked Mr Dutton over a $75,000 bill for a seven-day parliamentary trip to the US with his wife, taken the previous year.
Mrs Dutton, 44, owns and runs the Camelia Avenue Childcare Centre and Bald Hills Childcare Centre in Brisbane's north-west. Both are owned by RHT Family Trust, of which the family are all beneficiaries, according to ASIC documents.
The Government's childcare reforms came into effect on July 2, meaning centres receive Commonwealth subsidies, which are passed on to parents.
This could mean Mr Dutton has a "direct or indirect pecuniary interest with the Public Service of the Commonwealth", meaning a disqualification from Parliament.
Mr Dutton says he has legal advice his business affairs were above board, but Labor claims it has legal advice that he is ineligible for Parliament.
The Attorney-General, who has asked the Solicitor-General for advice on the matter, will now have to decide whether to refer it to court to decide whether there has been a disqualification.
Malcolm Turnbull sensationally used the issue as an anchor in his press conference today to announce he would wait on the Solicitor-General's advice about Mr Dutton's eligibility.
A party room meeting to determine the leader of Australia is expected at midday on Friday.
In his first speech to federal Parliament 16 years ago, Mr Dutton paid tribute to his parents.
"Their outstanding quality is their tenacity," he said in February 2002.
It's a quality many attribute to the 47-year-old as well. He's often said that as a police officer for almost a decade in the 1990s, he saw the "best and the worst that society has to offer".
In his maiden speech, he said: "I have seen the wonderful, kind nature of people willing to offer any assistance to those in their worst hour, and I have seen the sickening behaviour displayed by people who, frankly, barely justify their existence in our sometimes over-tolerant society."
He said "unacceptable crime rates" were "causing older Australians to barricade themselves in their homes."
And he claimed the "boisterous minority" and the "politically correct" have a disproportionate role in public affairs, attacking "the dictatorship of the trade union movement."
And he criticised the Civil Liberties Council, "otherwise known as the criminal lawyers media operative, who appear obsessed with the rights of criminals yet do not utter a word of understanding or compassion for the victims of crime."
He also spoke out about the inadequacy of prison sentences: "Time after time we see grossly inadequate sentences being delivered to criminals whose civil rights have far exceeded those of the victim and others in our society. This imbalance must be addressed, and for the sake of living standards and reasonable expectations for all Australians must be addressed as a matter of urgency."
HIGHS AND LOWS OF PUBLIC LIFE
Mr Dutton has generally performed well as a hard-working minister in a seat full of aspiring small business people. But as the 2010 election approached, polling showed Mr Dutton was at risk of losing Dickson and he tried to jump ship to a seat on the Gold Coast, with no plans to relocate. He lost a preselection bid, but was re-elected in Dickson.
Mr Dutton is often slammed as the hard-nosed immigration minister who "stopped the boats" by militarising the department with "Operation Sovereign Borders" and taking a cold approach to the health and wellbeing of asylum seekers in offshore detention - sending the strongest possible signal to people-smugglers.
His position as Home Affairs Minister marked an expansion of the role. He has now stepped down following the leadership spill, and is trying to find the numbers to challenge again.
Mr Dutton said this week that he would like nothing more than to get people off Manus and Nauru to the Australian mainland, but was afraid for them drowning.
He has been at the centre of many other controversies too, once describing a journalist as a "mad f***ing witch" - for which he later apologised.
He joked about climate change causing ocean levels to rise and destroy island nations under a boom mic. He was vocally anti marriage equality and said there was a "mistake made" in the past when it came to Lebanese immigration levels.
In 2008, he was the only frontbencher to boycott Kevin Rudd's apology to the Stolen Generations, offering to quit the shadow ministry. He told the ABC's Q&A in 2010 he saw it as "something which was not going to deliver tangible outcomes to kids who are being raped and tortured in communities in the 21st century", but said the regretted the decision in an interview with Fairfax last year. "I didn't appreciate the symbolism of it and the importance to indigenous people," he said.
He was also criticised for championing the controversial policy of charging $7 GP co-payments, drawing the ire of the medical industry. In January, he said Melbourne residents were "scared to go out to restaurants" because of "African gangs".
Mr Dutton has sometimes shown a more empathetic side, overturning visa decisions when special cases are put to him. He offered support to Yazidis held captive by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
"Not everyone loves him, that's for sure," said his Canberra flatmate, Liberal MP Steve Ciobo.
"But that's a consequence of him being a straight shooter."