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Behind the Seams: Bob Katter and the politics of alliances

Queensland, as we keep saying, always delivers when it comes to intriguing election campaigns. This year’s is proving to be a doozy. Just as the ALP launched its own campaign, and Campbell Newman was on the back foot over allegations concerning development approvals and his family’s business interests, and a Galaxy Poll showed Newman losing in Ashgrove … along came Bob Katter.

The Katter’s Australian Party released an anti-same s-x marriage ad, putatively directed at Newman and the LNP, and it had saturation airing on Brisbane TV last night. Justly, the ad’s content and visuals have attracted near universal condemnation.

If Andrew Bolt is calling Bob Katter’s ad “disgraceful”, the man with the white hat doesn’t have too many friends left. The country’s most prominent right-wing columnist wrote on his blog today with reference to Katter — “this man is toast”.

It’s hard to see how any of this helps KAP politically. The nature of the ad is likely to create sympathy for Newman, and it aids Anna Bligh in sharpening a contrast she wishes to draw between the ALP as the party of progress and the LNP and KAP as the parties of “the good old boys running the show”.

More importantly for our purposes, the attacks on the Greens will no doubt disrupt the alliances that have been built up between Katter supporters and greenies through campaigning organisations such as Lock The Gate. Lock the Gate president Drew Hutton had earlier envisaged preferences coming into play, though Queensland Greens spokesperson Libby Connors had indicated this was a decision for individual Greens branches.

But I don’t imagine either thought this sort of card would be played.

Many supporters of the anti-coal seam gas campaign will feel extreme discomfort over the nature of the KAP advertising, and many others will regret that its appearance will adversely affect the campaign.

KAP faces the danger of reducing itself to a single issue party — that issue being a reactionary stance on social matters and human rights. It may be that there are also KAP members and supporters who would not adopt either the view represented in the party’s advertising or would not support its packaging. But they will have to contend with the fact that this will be the one KAP intervention in the broader campaign to make a splash. The media coverage will also no doubt highlight —  again  — the participation of Joh Jury foreperson Luke Shaw in the party’s campaign as director.

It’s interesting to see that Bob Katter and Aidan McLindon don’t appear to have envisaged the inevitable pushback, which they have no way of controlling. That’s evident from Beaudesert MP and KAP state leader McLindon’s interview with the ABC.

If a coalition of farmers, rural and regional communities, indigenous people and environmentalists is the politics of the future, the politics of the past just reared its head and laid bare the fragility of the links built.

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