The big news this week was the much anticipated arrival of Bob Katter’s bright, shiny, new, Australian Party.” After weeks of fevered anticipation on something new on the political horizon, the reality is like Bob himself, a mish mash of populist semantics, varying from the meaningless to the economically dangerous.
There is what’s known as a political chameleon, who will go wherever the political wind blows, design policies to the color of his surroundings, do deals that have himself as top priority while appearing to benefit the people he represents. He essentially stands for himself, in the name of others. Bob is a lot like this.
He is short on policy, preferring instead to come up with core principles, which are essentially a list of feel good vanilla flavored references to church, motherhood, sunshine, warm feelings, a greater more caring nation, caressed in the loving arms of the right sort of government. In other words, the usual guff most parties adopt.
Katter himself has never stood for anything, preferring to pitch himself as the guy who listens and cares about the little guy, and wants a better nation without actually offering much in the way of specifics. The party is a reflection of this, claiming to be a group of united independents, not bound by party unity except when voting on Bob’s obsessions, like Coles and Woolworths.
This party will probably unravel when called upon to come to specifics, something he has managed to avoid until now. Reports indicate that he has a tendency to miss votes on nearly half the occasions they come up, and is one of the least active members of the house. If he leads a party, he will not be able to avoid decision making.
It will be interesting to see what legislation he would implement in order to “break the Coles/Woolies duopoly,” and to find out why he is establishing a party with the stated purpose of attacking two of our most successful major retailers. There is no mention of how he intends to create a massive reduction in their trade without throwing the retail sector into chaos or what he would do to compensate the shareholders for the losses they would suffer. Shareholders are not all ‘big’ and this will hurt quite a lot of small investors, either in the companies themselves or funds etc.
Consumers will be affected by his opposition to free trade. They will be harmed by the price increases that would inevitably follow from a return to the old McEwenist protectionism, but hey it’s for the common good. This party will be the new agrarian socialists on the model of the old Country Party.
They, like the old Country Party display an incredible naivety, which is borne out in their aim of equitable distribution of income. Even Gillard would not be stupid enough to say that. The Greens however will love it. Distributing population growth widely throughout Australia and especially into northern Australia is important to Bob. Perhaps he can achieve this with his stated desire to control those bastard banks, who are pricks enough to operate on a commercial basis.