What Do We Know About Peter Dutton, The Man Who Wants To Be PM?

How did the former Queensland cop come to be a challenger for the top job?

Peter Dutton failed to become our next Prime Minister by a matter of seven votes, after days of leadership crisis talks forced Malcolm Turnbull to call a spill.

Turnbull narrowly survived the challenge 48 to 35. Dutton is now resigning to the backbench, but it's not over for Turnbull, with close to half the party -- backed by right wing 'agitators' including Tony Abbott -- supporting Dutton.

So who is the former Queensland cop who may yet be our next Prime Minister?

Dutton, aligned with the right-wing, conservative faction of his party, joined the Young Liberals when he was just 18 and became the policy vice-chair a year later.

It was shortly after that he married his first wife at age 22, a union that ended after a few short months. They have one daughter together.

Dutton has been married to his second wife Kirilly since 2003, with whom he has two sons.

He served as a cop for nine years, working across the drug squad, sex offenders squad and the national crime authority, and that monotone, black-and-white cop demeanor had stayed with him throughout his entire political career.

He was first elected to the north Brisbane seat of Dickson in 2001, which he's held for the better part of two decades -- although not always comfortably.

Prime Minister John Howard with a young Peter Dutton during the 2007 Federal Election. Photo: Getty.

During the 2007 election -- which Howard lost -- Dutton held onto his seat by a tiny margin of just 217 votes. As the 2010 election approached, he sought pre-selection in the safe Liberal seat of McPherson, but lost to Karen Andrews, and reluctantly returned to Dickson.

He then won his seat by more than 8,000 votes and held it comfortably through the next election, but in the most recent one -- 2016 -- lost that lead. He won his last election by a margin of just 1.6 percent, and a GetUp-led campaign in Dickson to oust him from his seat once and for all has been running for months. Campaigners tell ten daily it's down to just 2,000 votes.

But Dutton's political career has been marked by controversy and racially charged incidences.

In 2007, he was the only front-bencher to boycott the apology to the Stolen Generation, claiming that he did not regard 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." He later said he regretted it.

Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton have spent the last few days locked in a leadership battle over energy prices. Photo: AAP.

Ten years later, he was a loud voice against same-sex marriage, at one point declaring that CEOs who supported marriage equality "shouldn't shove their views down our throats". It was a move widely condemned from LGBTI advocates and members of his own party alike.

There was also the "rising waters" incident, where he was caught on a hot mic joking about Pacific Islanders facing rising sea levels from climate change, plus the "mad fucking witch" comments he made about journalist Samantha Maiden.

Since becoming the Minister for Immigration in 2014 -- a portfolio which swelled to become Home Affairs in 2017 -- he inherited a bipartisan immigration policy that's been consistently criticised as inhumane and illegal by just about every humans rights group there is.

He has consistently and deliberately sought to muddy reporting about the offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru, refusing to answer questions about anything that happens on Manus. 

Closer to home, he has consistently engaged in what critics describe as race baiting; at one point claiming that refugees were illiterate in their own languages. He was also a part of the "African gangs"sensationalism, and extended a hand of support to 'persecuted' white South African farmers.

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As (the former) Home Affairs minister, he has the power to strip dual nationals of their Australian citizenship, and as been criticised by human rights groups  as having more unchecked authority than anyone else in government.

But there is always a chance that Dutton may not even be eligible to serve in Parliament.

As Ten exclusively reported on Monday, Dutton may not even be eligible to serve in Cabinet.

Under recent changes to Section 44(v) of the Constitution, any person with "direct or indirect pecuniary interest with the Public Service of the Commonwealth" is disqualified from Parliament, putting Dutton at direct odds with the for-profit child care operations owned by his family trust.

It means that in the unlikely event a member of government referred Dutton -- who remains one of the most powerful men in the country -- to the High Court, he could be found ineligible to sit in Parliament, triggering a by-election.