The Katter party gains credibility
Now that they have won seats, they can no longer be dismissed as just a loony idea. And doing so in the midst of a historic landslide to another party is rather remarkable
I voted LNP but I am rather pleased that the Katter party is now a credible force. Katter is from Queensland's far North, where I was born and bred and his views are the sort of views that I grew up among -- and which I still largely hold. And his gains were all in the North. They usually voted Labour up there but did so out of perceived economic self-interest. Rather like the Old Southern Democrats of the USA, they voted Leftishly but were conservative at heart.
It is a tough-minded sort of conservatism up there, perhaps aptly called ultra conservatism. The brainless Left would call Katter's party "far Right" but that conjures up visions of racism and Katter is in fact known for his good relations with Aborigines. He is in fact arguably their strongest political advocate.
And under the Australian system of preferential voting, having two conservative parties maximizes rather than splits the conservative vote
BOB Katter's fledgling party was claiming four seats and pledging to be "ferocious" in opposition to the all-powerful LNP. Katter's Australian Party won Mount Isa and neighbouring Dalrymple while party boss Bob Katter also declared wins in the still undecided seats of Thuringowa in Townsville and Mulgrave in Cairns.
Mr Katter said, on last night's result, the party could secure up to 10 seats in a federal election and declared "the war has just begun". "In 15 to 25 seats, we secured (more than) 20 per cent of the vote," he said, "Yet some of our candidates have only been in the field for six weeks."
Mr Katter said his successful Australian Party candidates would be "ferocious" in opposition. He also blasted a court decision which, he said, cost thousands of votes when the party was robbed of the right to include "Bob Katter" on ballot papers. "That has cost us a great deal in this election," he said.
Mr Katter's son, Robbie, who took Mount Isa, has become the third generation of his family to enter politics while his KAP colleague Shane Knuth will hold the neighbouring seat of Dalrymple, centred around Charters Towers.
But the KAP's state president, Aidan McLindon, lost Beaudesert while one of its star candidates, former cricketer Carl Rackemann, lost the battle last night in Nanango, based around Kingaroy. Mr Katter said that both candidates would be back for a second tilt at the seats.
A party spokesman said last night that Mulgrave was likely to fall to the KAP while the Townsville-based seat of Thuringowa also looked positive.
The party exceeded polling expectations, taking more than 10 per cent of the vote and turning some seats into two-horse races between the LNP and the KAP.
Mr Katter said his son's victory reflected voter disenchantment. "He was never interested in politics until a few years ago," Mr Katter said. "It's a measure of how bad the two main parties are that a bloke who had no interest mobilised himself with enormous aggression."
Robbie Katter was cautious about claiming victory too early but conceded the vote was coming his way. "It was a David (and) Goliath fight - we were battling with probably one-tenth of the staff and budget the others were," he said. "They had been around more than 50 years and we had only been around for 10 months."
The wildcard electorate which did well for the KAP included Mulgrave in Cairns where Damian Byrnes - a doctor and medical officer in the reserve defence forces - put in an impressive performance.
Mr McLindon said that he was satisfied he had played a role in creating a new force on the political scene in Queensland. "This election is a big battle but there is still the war to be won," he said, referring to the federal arena. "At last, we can rest comfortable knowing we have created a good political organisation here."