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Crikey Says

Nov 26, 2012

Crikey says: Katter gives voters little choice

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.

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14 comments

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14 thoughts on “Crikey says: Katter gives voters little choice

  1. michael crook

    Labor cannot rebuild in Queensland, as long as the same factions and factional balances are in place. The reason that the ALP in Queensland outstripped even Joh in rampant corruption was the removal of the democratic process and a replacement of it with a group of factional warlords. There is nothing but a shell.

  2. paddy

    I’ll forgive many sins Crikey. But abuse of the word “decimated” is not one of them. Anna Bligh’s Govt would have happily settled for decimation.

  3. Bill Hilliger

    Some lovely things are going down in Queensland. They deserve the government they voted in. La, la, la.

  4. zut alors

    I second Paddy’s comment.

    One major point of diversity between Katter and the two major parties is his opposition to coal seam gas.

  5. Mark from Melbourne

    If reported accurately, Katter’s pro semi-automatic weapons is a scary precursor. I thought Australia had moved beyond this debate.

  6. Mark from Melbourne

    I never got a sense that there was “rampant corruption” in Queensland – I know there was lots of “evidence” of rampant incompetence, but corruption? Although not coming from there I am possibly poorly informed on the subject.

  7. Gavin Moodie

    I don’t take Katter’s rise seriously, but if the mayor of Brisbane does, will he counter it by moving more to the right, thus exposing more of the centre to Labor?

  8. michael crook

    Hi Mark, hows the weather down there. Here it is always sunny. The corruption was widespread, mainly, though not only through the ruling AWU (Labor Forum) faction, which used Union members funds to forge some very unhealthy alliances with property developers and mining corporations. Leading this charge was the lobbying company “Enhance” where disgraced ex deputy premier Jim Elder became a major bagman. You may remember the other disgraced ex MP Mike Kaiser, who also admitted electoral fraud and went on to become Anna Bligh’s chief of staff and whose main job was to push privatisation through, as he had attempted in NSW as Morris Iemma’s chief of staff. The main hotbed of the “nasty little crooks” was the Labor Unity faction which kept the AWU in power for 22 years, and one of their MP’s was our local MP in Sandgate, Gordon Nuttall, now serving an extended sentence in prison. However your assumption of incompetence is quite correct, as indicated by the health payroll scandal, where the new IT section under Rob Schwarten, managed to save $250,000 in extended software rental, to sadly cost the Queensland taxpayer about a billion dollars. The only thing positive that could be said for the Qld Alp, is that the Newman (or NUKEMAN) government, is even more incompetent, and doubtless will prove to be more corrupt. What wonderful choices the two party system gives us.

  9. cairns50

    anna bligh proved once again that moving to the right in politics does not gain you there vote or hold your middle ground

    once she privatised all of those state owned enterprises where was there for labor supporters to go?

    thats right excuse the pun, may as well vote liberal

    will labor ever learn ?

  10. Malcolm Street

    What’s happening in Queensland lends credibility to an old argument against merging the Liberal and National Parties – that it would create a niche for a right-wing rural based party. Enter Katter.

    Note that he’s in a lot of ways less hard right than an old-style agrarian socialist.