Peter Dutton blasted for ‘cheap’ call to boycott Woolworths over Australia Day merch

Peter Dutton has been accused of stoking culture wars and chasing headlines after he called for a boycott of Woolworths for not stocking Australia Day merch.

The major retailer confirmed this week the “gradual decline” of demand for the products led to the decision.

German supermarket giant Aldi has also axed the merchandise.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt lined up to whack the Opposition Leader’s comments on Friday morning, suggesting he was more focused on “thongs and flags” than supermarket prices.

“I think it shows that he is really out of touch with what Australians really care about when it comes to supermarkets and that’s the prices they are paying at the checkout,” he said.

“This is the consequences of Peter Dutton and his constant desire to divide and be negative is that he is prepared to put the jobs of 200,000 workers at Woolies at risk, just to score a cheap political points.”

Warringah independent Zali Stegall agreed: “He has no policies. So he’s looking for a headline by creating division and picking on culture wars like this.”

“Seriously, if you want to go out there for the battlers and we want to talk about Australian values, putting food on the table is the most important thing.”

The debate about Australia Day merchandise kicked into a new gear on Thursday after Mr Dutton blasted Woolworths’ chief executive Brad Banducci.

In an extraordinary intervention, the opposition leader branded the decision an “outrage” and said it went “against the national interest”.

“I think until we get common sense out of a company like Woolworths, I don’t think they should be supported by the public,” he told Sydney’s 2GB.

He described Mr Banducci as being “very forward leaning” during the Voice debate and accused him of making “stupid decisions” to please Anthony Albanese.

“I think the Prime Minister frankly needs to call it out,” Mr Dutton said.

His comments were backed in by Nationals frontbencher Barnaby Joyce.

“It is a celebration of the fact a penal colony, not an invading army, a penal colony and the Aboriginal people … have grown this nation, which is the most egalitarian on Earth,” he said

“I believe that something should be celebrated and not the sort of, you know, this idea that they sort of almost somehow quaint and a little bit awkward and not quite their style.

“If Woolworths don’t want to be part of Australia Day then I can’t see why people should go shopping there.”

It comes as the Albanese government reconfirmed its commitment to keeping January 26 as the date of the national holiday despite a push in recent years to move it.

Indigenous groups often refer to January 26, which marks the arrival of the First Fleet raising the British flag in Sydney, as Invasion Day

Senator Watt said there were many ways Australians could celebrate – like purchasing a leg of lamb or making a pavlova – while also striking a “balanced approach” to the day.

“There’s lots of great ways that people can celebrate Australia Day, while also recognising that there are some things in the past that haven’t been great for Australia,” he said.

“That’s the kind of balanced outlook that I reckon we need going forward.”

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