Paul Keating says Peter Dutton is the 'meanest' person in Australian politics in 50 years

Paul Keating says Peter Dutton is the most "mean-spirited" person in Australian politics in 50 years and praised Bill Shorten's line-up as the best frontbench since Bob Hawke came to power in 1983.

In his second appearance in the election campaign, the former prime minister attacked the Home Affairs Minister saying voters had the chance to "drive a stake through his dark political heart" on Saturday.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

Mr Keating said the choice for voters on election day was between a "government going to an election celebrating the fact they have no policy" and Labor which would "revolutionise human capital".

"The poison in society's today is the maldistribution of wealth....We've avoided the terrible American problem but you have to keep improving these things," Mr Keating said.

"What keeps us together as a society is we are all members of the Australian family. The health of any one of us should be important to all of us."

Mr Keating also defended comments he made at the Labor Party campaign launch ten days ago in which he attacked Australia's spy chiefs, calling them "nutters" and urging Labor leader Bill Shorten to sack them to improve relations with China if he won the election.

"I was sort of speaking in code, Jon, to the foreign policy and security establishment," he told ABC Melbourne radio host Jon Faine.

Mr Keating's intervention in the campaign comes a day after another party elder, John Howard, hit the campaign trail in support of his "great friend" Tony Abbott.

Mr Keating praised the Labor line-up saying it was the best potential cabinet in nearly four decades.

"What [Bill] Shorten is doing is presenting himself as chairman of a very competent board, a very competent cabinet. The last time we saw the Labor Party this good was, really, in 1983 with Bob Hawke's first ministry. This is what you're seeing again with Shorten. Shorten will be the competent leader of a really important and solid team."

The Coalition, on the other hand, had a depleted team and was led by a man who presented himself as "the man next door who can jump the fence and wear a baseball cap" but Australia needed "more than the man next door" as prime minister.

Former prime minister Paul Keating.

Former prime minister Paul Keating.

His harshest words were reserved for Mr Dutton who, Mr Keating said, had a "dark political heart".

"I joined the Australian Parliament 50 years ago this year," Mr Keating said. "In those 50 years I've never seen any public figure as mean or mean-spirited as Peter Dutton. Those electors in Dickson have a chance to drive a political stake through his dark political heart and I hope they do."

Mr Keating was also critical of Clive Palmer's attempt to return to political life.

Faine noted Mr Palmer was in Fiji.

"I wish he'd stay there," Mr Keating retorted before going on to warn that minor parties and independents would flourish when governments failed to have "a vision, a vista, a panorama of where the country is going".

Mr Keating predicted a Labor win on Saturday night.

"Bill Shorten will be the Winx of the campaign."

  • SMH/The Age
This story Paul Keating says Peter Dutton is the 'meanest' person in Australian politics in 50 years first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.