‘Queenmaker’ Katter’s crucial role

 

Despite both Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deb Frecklington repeatedly affirming they would not do any deals in the event of a hung parliament, experts and punters alike are betting on the major parties having to form a coalition with the cross bench.

Whether the Premier and Opposition Leader like it or not, they'll likely have to do a deal with one of two potential queenmakers - Robbie Katter of Katter's Australian Party or Michael Berkman of the Greens.

Robbie Katter said the two major parties had to stop their "arrogance" and accept the will of the people, especially if that meant a minority government.

"Before the election results have even come in, they've signalled they lack the ability to consult. No wonder they're having problems maintaining their primary vote, no wonder their vote is bleeding to minor parties like ours," he told NCA NewsWire.

Katter's Australian Party holds three seats - Traeger, the second largest electorate in the state held by Robbie Katter; Hinchinbrook, held by Nick Dametoo; and Hill, held by Shane Knuth.

In the 2012 election, KAP received 282,098 primary votes around the state, or about 11.53 per cent of the vote. In 2016, that number dropped significantly to 50,588 or 1.93 per cent, but the party shared the balance of power, and in 2017 they recorded 62,613 votes, or 2.32 per cent of the votes.

Robie Katter (left) with his father, Federal MP Bob Katter.
Robie Katter (left) with his father, Federal MP Bob Katter.

 

As the third largest sitting party in the Queensland parliament, it looks all but likely that should Labor or the LNP fail to win the necessary 47 seats to form majority, Ms Frecklington or Ms Palaszczuk will come knocking on Mr Katter's door.

But which way the party will swing is still up in the air, even two days out from the October 31 election.

The KAP was established in 2011 by Robbie's father Bob Katter, the north Queensland self-professed "maverick" who has served in Queensland parliament under the former Country Party (now LNP) as the member for Flinders from 1974 to 1992.

In 1992, he moved to federal parliament, standing as the National Party candidate in the seat of Kennedy held by his father Bob Katter Snr - who was a Labor member before joining the Country Party - and winning by 4000 votes.

He continued to serve Kennedy as a Nationals MP until 2001, when he ran, and won, as an independent and went on to do so in three consecutive federal elections.

In 2011, Mr Katter formed Katter's Australian Party to "unashamedly represent agriculture," and continues to retain the seat, most recently with a 2.9 per cent swing towards him.

KAP won two seats in the 2012 and 2015 Queensland elections and picked up the third in 2017.

In 2020, the party is tipped to hold its three seats, and could gain traction in a number of other electorates, putting Mr Katter in prime position to do a deal with either of the major parties, should they stop their "arrogance" of ruling out forming a minority government.

"If the people have said 'we don't really prefer either of you', they need to respect that, respect the will of the people and deal with the minor parties, be consultative, that's the essence of good government," Mr Katter told NCA NewsWire.

"The arrogance also surpasses the knowledge of how the system works, because it's not up to them whether they form minority government. They can't rule out a deal and call another election.

"The governor is well within his rights to say 'even if you don't have the numbers, I'll give you the nod to go and consult' and they will have to prove themselves to parliament every time you want something through... that's healthy democracy."

Katter's Australian Party state leader Robbie Katter with KAP Cook candidate Tanika Parker in Cairns. Picture: Peter Carruthers
Katter's Australian Party state leader Robbie Katter with KAP Cook candidate Tanika Parker in Cairns. Picture: Peter Carruthers

 

Mr Katter said a sense of displeasure with the Labor party in rural and regional parts of the state would favour parties such as his over either of the major parties, despite no real mood for change.

The KAP has candidates in 13 electorates and Mr Katter said he was confident the party would not only keep a strong hold of the seats it already had, but could pick up others.

"We performed better than any other minor party on a seat-by-seat basis in the last election. But we don't run in every seat, we just run in seats we plan to win which I think is a euphemism for how we operate in parliament," Mr Katter said.

"We take a principled approach to politics and we exist as a policy-based party."

As to whether that will mean he'd pick up the LNP or Labor's call, Mr Katter said the party would side with whichever party aligned themselves with their values.

"We're a pro-development party, we want to build water storages and dams, build rail lines... That's the type of government we'd support," he said.

"The question is who wants to align with those values, whoever does that deserves our support. It's not blue or red, but who can deliver for rural and regional Queensland."

Mr Katter said both major parties had failed to give Queenslanders living outside of the southeast corner the respect they deserved this election, saying both Ms Palaszczuk and Ms Frecklington have run "the worst campaign in modern Queensland."

"They just started a bidding war, they're just trying to buy votes," Mr Katter said.

 

Originally published as 'Queenmaker' Katter's crucial role