Nov 2019

Katter hits the road with Pauline on drought tour

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KAP Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter has put his political differences aside to tour drought-stricken inland southern Queensland with Senator Pauline Hanson over the next four days. The political power couple will start in Charleville Monday afternoon, travel to Cunnamulla on Tuesday and finishing their tour in Roma on Wednesday.

Mr Katter said the tour was organised when both members agreed the major parties were failing to act urgently enough on the issue of drought.
Mr Katter said, “The cattle numbers have fallen 24.6 million two years ago. They are now down to 22 million. I suspect next year’s figures will have us below 20 million. (Source: MLA Website)

“The mineral resources are finite; they get mined, they are gone. All mines close eventually. But the damage being done to the national cattle herd, and to inland communities is colossal.

“People think of cattle and they think of cattleman or cattle farmers. But they comprise actually a very small part of the industry. Livestock hauliers, meat workers, the pharmacy in Chinchilla, the grocery store in Cloncurry, the helicopter facility in Mareeba; the New England University in Armidale – all are essential components and get their income from this industry.

“So whilst their might be the corporates and some “big graziers” who are sweating on the little bloke going broke so they can buy him out, what they don’t realise is that political power rests in numbers. And our numbers in this industry are falling into political irrelevancy.

“But at present there is no doubt that in inland South Queensland and inland Northern NSW are looking down the gun barrel of 25% of the cattle vanishing in the maw of the meatworks or simply dying, and a third of the businesses, the jobs, the farmers the contractors, vanishing along with their towns.

“Only 7% of the surface area of Australia is city-coastal. The remaining 93% has less than a million people living there yet it contains all the minerals, 63% of the coal, over 80% of the water. How much longer do you think this is going to go on for?

“So this is what brought Pauline and myself together and most certainly what led me into discussions.”

Mr Katter said he hadn’t worked with the One Nation Senator before, however acknowledged that they regularly fight on the same side of many Australian issues.

“I don’t think we’ve actually worked together before. We most certainly fought on the same side on many occasions but clearly we are looking forward to closer working relationships and this should be a good example. We have different political parties with very serious differences but we are burying those differences. The very serious nature of the drought is why we are burying the politics. And I think any proud Australian does not want to see the nation’s third biggest export industry continue its collapse.”

Mr Katter said he hoped the tour would put considerable pressure on the State and Federal Governments to act and provide further, immediate support to the townships the mercy of drought.

Mr Katter said, “I think this tour will enormously strengthen the pressure upon the Government to act. I think the National Farmer’s Federation (NFF) does not represent rural Australia even remotely. It represents the big corporates who are not farmers at all, they are city suits and some rich and extremely sort sighted “graziers” who want to buy the little blokes out. But the elements of the Government are listening to these people, many of them, major donors of the LNP, and ultimately the Prime Minister has got to intervene here but I think he needs more backup if he is going to intervene.

“The current situation is very simple. The only way to keep the cattle alive is the hand-feed fodder and the Federal Government has left the issue of fodder in the hands of the State Government. In Queensland’s case, the Premier and Deputy Premier would be the least likely people since 1859 to fill that role of hand feeding fodder. The Federal Government either takes over the issue of fodder or the cattle are going to die.

“The State Government are not capable are finding a hanky to blow their nose, let alone set up a Reconstruction Authority but we will fight in both the State and Federal parliaments until the Reconstruction Bank approach is re-established.

“The answers are easy and simple. Every Government in Australian history has used what is called a ‘Reconstruction Authority’. Very simple – the Government is currently borrowing money at around 1.5%, there is no reason why they can’t loan the money out to the farmer at 1.5%. The commitments to the banks, the job farmers, the rural businesses and cattlemen are 5.5%. Now, the Government has to take the first mortgage. The whole of the farmer etc debt. Since it is an “at risk” debt, it is purchased at a discount of 15% or more.

“The farmer owes the NAB or ANZ a million dollars. He now owes the Reconstruction Authority $850,000 because they purchased the mortgage at a discount. The interest is 1.5% so instead of the farmer etc having to find $55,000 a year to give to the bank, he now only has to find $13,000 to give to the bank.
“In all industries there are lazy, stupid people that won’t accept change and they need to be cleaned out. So it may be cruel, but for any economic system to work well, the drones have to go.

“So we need to take forage out from under the State Government. They have already proved to be incompetent and disinterested and have demonstrated they are only concerned with their lily pad leftie views.

“Every Government is judged by its outcomes. If the Prime Minister follows through on the market gardens for First Australians, and the first serious building of the institutions to overcome drought, namely the Hughenden Irrigation Scheme, a template for 20-odd schemes to follow on, if he follows through then he will be remembered as one of the great Prime Ministers. But I am afraid that the judgements passed by people like Alan Jones may overshadow the good things that he has done. He stands on the sideline and watches the cattle industry simply fade away like the motor vehicle industry, the white goods industry and the dairy and fruit and - that it what is happening. The Prime Minister is listening the wrong people in the Parliament. They don’t represent the people of rural Australia, they represent city corporations. I think and believe the Prime Minister is starting to become aware of that.

“Pauline showed immense courage over the issue of visas into Australia. Now, our policies are a lot different than her on this, but she was the first person that had the courage to stand up and say the things she said. I did what I could for our friendship when people were trying to put her in jail and we had dinner a number of times together then. I regret we haven’t been as close in recent years, but our party people work well with their party people, our state members are very close to their One Nation member and together they work very well in the state parliament.

“We are separate parties but even parties that are polls apart such as KAP and the Greens work extremely well together on issues of national interest like the banking inquiry and over the industrial awards and industrial issues.

“I think that no one is going to deny that the KAP is going to win some more seats in the north at the next election. Even our worst political opponents are not going to deny that. So if One Nation can win some more seats in the south, which they are very close to doing, then we are looking at a completely different political firmament.”


Contact Details

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Visit: Cnr Edith and Owen St
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Innisfail, Qld 4860

Mount Isa
P: (07) 4743 3534
F: (07) 4743 0189
Visit: 42-44 Simpson St
Post: PO Box 2130
Mount Isa, Qld 4825

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Email: Bob.Katter.MP@aph.gov.au