During this weekend, Immigration minister Peter Dutton singled out Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and blasted him over gay marriage.

In his address to the Liberal National Party’s state council meeting in Cairns on Saturday morning, Dutton got stuck into CEOs for campaigning in favour of same sex marriage. A letter signed by more than 30 CEOs from some of Australia’s largest companies had sent a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, urging him to legislate for marriage equality.

But Joyce got special attention from Dutton.

“Alan Joyce, the individual, is perfectly entitled to campaign for and spend his hard earned money on any issue he sees fit, but don’t do it in the official capacity and with shareholders money,” Mr Dutton said.

“If Alan Joyce and any other CEO wants to campaign on this or any other issue in their own time and on their own dime, good luck to them.

“Don’t use an iconic brand and the might of a multibillion dollar business on issues best left to the judgement of individuals and elected decision-makers.”

Now the letter was signed by 34 business leaders from companies including ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, Holden, Telstra, MYOB, Football Federation Australia and the National Rugby League. It outlines the benefits of marriage equality for business, employees, customers and the country.

Signatories included ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott, CBA CEO Ian Narev, Telstra CEO Andrew Penn, Wesfarmers boss Richard Goyder, Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer, Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott, GM Holden chairman and managing director Mark Bernhard, President and Chief Executive GE Australia and New Zealand Geoff Culbert, Clayton Utz chief Robert Cutler, National Rugby League Chief Executive Officer chief executive officer Todd Greenberg. All up there were 34 signatories.

So why single out Alan Joyce?

Because Alan Joyce is openly gay and he has embraced role-model status because he’s seen the impact he can have by speaking out.

Dutton could have attacked the other CEOs but he chose not to. Former Queensland cops know who to target.

Dutton’s comments are completely at odds with the rest of Australia with opinions polls showing 70 per cent of people want marriage equality

It’s also an attack on business, something you don’t expect from the Liberal Party.

The worry is that Dutton is seen as the man who will take over from Malcolm Turnbull as PM. It’s a choice that will do the Liberal Party no good.