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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bob Katter's Australia Party

Bob Katter began his parliamentary career as the member of the National Party in 2001 but continues to hold the seat of Kennedy as an Independent. 

In June 2011 he made a brave decision to start his own party - Katter's Australia Party (KAP).  His father Bob Senior was the member for Kennedy for twenty four years and Bob Junior stepped easily into his shoes.  He is a Maronite Catholic of Irish and Lebanese descent.

In 2001 he resigned from the National Party and easily retained his seat as an Independent in 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010, each time with almost 70 per cent of the vote and presently holds the seat with an 18 point majority.

James Blundell and Bob Katter

It's hard to describe Bob Katter.  He's known as the man who wears the big hat around Parliament House but he's also known as a rebel, a loose canon and totally unpredictable.  Some would say it's Bob's way or the highway, so it was no surprise when he started his own party.

Katter wanted country singer James Blundell on his team and convinced him to run for the Senate and if he wins, he could hold the balance of power.

Since Rudd's comeback, KAP hardly registers on the national Newspoll with just 0.4 per cent of the vote but in Queensland, the party has 1.8 per cent statewide.

Peter Garrett and Midnight Oil

Midnight Oil's lead singer Peter Garrett can't wait to get out of politics and Blundell thinks the country is losing a good man.  "That ferocious front-foot articulation of his should be right out in front of any contemporary political party" he said.

Peter Garrett at work in Canberra

A fan asked Blundell why he was going into politics - was it for the pension after his bankruptcy?  He said it had nothing to do with the money.  (The base salary for a senator is $180,000, plus perks, of course.)

After nine albums and winning nine Golden Guitar awards, Blundell lost most of his money trying to set up his own recording label and in 2010, he filed for bankruptcy.  It was discharged on March 13, allowing him to sign on as a KAP candidate.

But Blundell has already run into trouble. He made a speech which stunned the conservative KAP party faithful and some members have left because of it - he said he would support gay marriage.  In the same speech, he said he wanted to abolish penalty rates which upset the Queensland unions and more members walked.   Blundell and even Katter himself are accused of being in breach of their party's constitution which bans gay marriage and defines marriage as a lifetime union between a man and a woman.  

If elected, Blundell would join the Senate in July 2014.