First bullying, now Crikey has claims the ATO was dismissing official taxpayer complaints. Bernard Keane wonders how it all got to this on Julia Gillard and Slater & Gordon. How the carbon tax is more popular than Tony Abbott. And the Mark Latham v Andrew Bolt cage match continues.
What fills political vacuums is never pretty. Take Bob Katter’s mob in Queensland.
In 1998, with the conservative opposition in disarray, a new force emerged in Sunshine State politics led by Pauline Hanson. One Nation won almost 23% of the vote, snatching 11 of the 89 seats in Parliament.
Now, a rampant Campbell Newman is opposed by just a handful of Labor MPs after Anna Bligh’s government was decimated at the last election. Few voters could even name the opposition leader.
Suddenly, we’re talking about a new political force in Queensland.
“Clearly we are on a roll big time,” Katter told reporters in Canberra this morning. Yesterday Liberal-National Party MP Ray Hopper declared he was dumping the government in favour of Katter’s Australia Party, joining two other party MPs in the Queensland chamber. There’s talk more could switch; Katter reckons the party could even out-number Labor by the next election.
That’s a big problem for Newman, who is struggling to hold together the Liberal and National factions in an alliance that remains no less uneasy since the merger.
But it might be a bigger problem for the state. One Nation was a right-wing force against a progressive government; the rise of hard-right Katter philosophy against a conservative government offers little diversity and, perhaps, even fewer checks and balances in a unicameral Parliament.
Labor must rebuild in Queensland — particularly in the regions — to give voters a choice. And fast.