Dec 2020

Katter remembers Doug Anthony: friend, colleague, mentor

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Doug Anthony was part of a most extraordinary family. Dirt poor migrants with absolutely nothing, knocking around the Australian bush. Albeit I was in the state parliament at the time, Doug served with my father and he was a pallbearer at my father’s funeral.

Doug’s father Larry Anthony senior, the classic Australian (not American) success story, got a job in the post office.
He hated Sydney and went bush to Murwillumbah, in northern NSW. He would have had nothing, saved and bought a couple of acres, turned it into a very small banana farm, which he worked himself after hours and on weekends. He became one of the biggest banana growers in Australia.
History books tell us he got all banana growers into one cooperative, signing collectively into the Sydney markets. So instead of the buyers screwing the farmers, the farmers got a fair deal (well maybe the farmers screwed the buyers).
As the legendary founder of the Australia Banana Growers Cooperative, he followed
Jack McEwen’s steps who did the exact same in the dairy industry in Victoria.

One of the most famous things that ever happened in Australian history, was the wool reserve price scheme, where Doug Anthony just continued to buy wool with arguably no cabinet approval. The scheme doubled the price of wool in three years, and for the next 20 years we had a steady growth in the sheep herd and in the price. Shearers made big money and inland Australia was prosperous.
Wool in 1990, brought in over $6b in export earnings. It was bigger than coal. For an industry that had carried Australia for its entire history, when synthetics came in, it was on disaster road. Anthony’s marketing promotion scheme made it deservedly the most important fabric on earth. The scheme was destroyed by the free market champion, Paul Keating who abolished it. Now it is irrelevant in the bigger economic scheme of things.

Doug instructed me as a young man at the Country Party.
“Don’t worry about tariffs or subsidies,” he’d tell me. “What we die in the ditch for is the value of the dollar”.
McEwen, his great predecessor, and Earl Page had twice brought down the Federal Government over the value of the dollar.
Prime Minister, Billy McMahon announced an upward evaluation. Doug Anthony, Deputy Prime Minister, took great delight in announcing the next day a devaluation. A monumental Mexican stand-off took place and the next week the dollar was not revalued but devalued by around 20 per cent.
I sold my first mob of cattle and I got 20 per cent more for them than I expected – and at that point I truly loved Doug Anthony.

Legend has it there is a bit of Sicilian in the family tree. Whether that is true or false, I would not cross Doug Anthony, not for a million quid.
But in my history of Australia, I talk about walking with giants, and he was certainly one of those giants. And I would follow him into the valley of death a few times over.

God bless you Doug Anthony. Your memory inspires me to this very day.

Bob Katter


Contact Details

P: (07) 4061 6066
F: (07) 4061 6566
Visit: Cnr Edith and Owen St
Post: PO Box 1638
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

(when Parliament is sitting)
P: (02) 6277 4978
F: (02) 6277 8558

Local Call within the electorate
P: 1300 301 942

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