Defence Minister Peter Dutton has been banned from a major shopping centre in his electorate after management claimed his guest appearance as Santa Claus had upset too many children and their parents.
In what Liberal Party insiders admitted was a deliberate attempt to soften his “hard man” image, Mr Dutton spent part of yesterday playing Santa at the Strathpine Centre shopping complex in his Dickson electorate north of Brisbane.
But the ploy backfired badly and centre staff were forced to ask Mr Dutton to leave the premises.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time which is why we agreed to let Mr Dutton don the Santa costume and beard,” a spokesperson for the centre said.
“But unfortunately the whole thing went off the rails fairly quickly and we were soon confronted with dozens of kiddies who were all crying and screaming uncontrollably.
“Every time a youngster sat on his lap and asked for a particular toy or the latest must-have item Mr Dutton bluntly told them they wouldn’t be getting it. In fact he actually berated them for asking for it in the first place.
“He told them that the Christmas present they had set their heart on receiving was made in China and they shouldn’t be asking for anything that would support a cruel, totalitarian, godless, and expansionist regime.
“He said they should instead be informing themselves about China’s imperialist designs on the South China Sea, its Belt and Road plan for world domination, its poor record on human rights in general, and its persecution of Uyghurs in particular, as well as its anti-democratic crackdown on the rights of those living in Hong Kong.
“Mr Dutton went on to tell each child that they and their parents should prepare for a war with China before the next election that there was no guarantee they would survive, but which was both necessary and inevitable.”
The spokesperson said staff had intervened after just a few hours and had politely asked Mr Dutton to leave the centre.