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But now, the 77-year-old, who has rarely been described in print without the word “maverick” being appended, is set to accede to the venerable if ceremonial office of Father of the House, following his re-election as MP for Kennedy at the May 21 election.
He has represented the people of Kennedy – as a National, Independent, and of his own Katter’s Australian Party – continuously since 1993.
“Every time that I wanted to go sideways, there was another battle that had to be fought,” he told nine.com.au.
“I just drove into the battle.”
Prior to his move to federal politics, Katter was elected to Queensland parliament in 1974, aged just 29, as MP for the seat of Flinders.
He had previously been trying to negotiate the sale of 250,000 acres of Queensland cattle country – including mineral rights – and running an agency, which he described as “boring”.
But mining prices collapsed, the bottom fell out of the cattle market, and, Katter said, “I got angry at Whitlam”.
It proved a fateful change of direction.
And after nearly 50 years of experience in the cut-and-thrust of politics, Katter’s not optimistic about the incoming parliament.
“I think the deceived people of Australia have voted badly,” he said, before making it clear he was referring more to the wave of pro-climate action “teals”, than to the advent of a Labor government.
“There will be a lot more ‘bludgerigars’. Bludgerigars are blossoming in Canberra, and the lilypad left are blossoming in Canberra.
“(Albanese) is not a lilypad leftie … but whether he’s going to hold the line with the cards he’s been dealt by the voters, we’ll see.
“I pray for him, I wouldn’t want to be in his position.”
Katter’s reputation in the wider electorate is largely built on his social conservatism, his opposition to privatisation and deregulation, and his calls for government support for local manufacturing and production – whether it’s cars, appliances, or underwear.
He refers to himself as of the “hard left”, with a focus more on reducing the powers of corporations and overseas interests to the benefit of Australian workers, than on progressive social issues, or emissions reduction for that matter.
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No stranger to controversy, Katter has previously claimed he’d walk “backwards to Bourke” if there were any gay people in northern Queensland, and came under fire for his support of then-Senator Fraser Anning after the latter called for a “final solution” to Australian immigration.
Many saw Anning’s comment as a reference to the Holocaust, described by the Nazis as a “final solution”.
Katter has also expressed disdain for the elevation of environmental concerns in urban areas.
“The ‘save the planet’ movement – they don’t love nature, they hate people,” he said.
“If they loved nature, they’d live where I do.”
He cites 1940s Labor prime ministers John Curtin and Ben Chifley as examples to follow on economic management for the people.
“After the Great Depression, we learned our lesson, we put Chifley and Curtin in, made them prime minister,” he said.
“We got it right eventually. But we don’t have giants like that in parliament anymore.”
The KAP will, in the incoming parliament, bring forward a wide-ranging fuel security bill that would ban oil exports, increase ethanol and electric vehicle use (particularly in metropolitan areas), in an effort to make Australia more self-reliant when it comes to energy.
“If China invades, we’ll be out in three days,” Katter said.
This same concern, for the Member for Kennedy, extends to other essential services such as water and electricity, which he would see returned entirely to Australian hands.
He is also a vigorous voice on Indigenous land ownership and autonomy.
He drew press attention ahead of the election by calling for Australian school students to be taught gun use, along with the establishment of a “missile fortress” around Australia, as the only effective deterrent to an invasion by an overseas power.
“The idea that we can defend ourselves (against China) is laughable,” he said.
And no matter the complications the incoming parliament will present, Katter’s ready to have his voice heard – claiming an “enviable” record in going head-to-head with prime ministers, premiers and more.
“Fifty years experience – and I was a bad bastard to start with,” Katter laughed.
The battles, it seems, aren’t over yet.