Katter's vote of no confidence
Dennis Shanahan says here that Bob Katter's call for a new party is "a cry from the heart for many".
Barely 12 months into Julia Gillard's first term, the far north Queensland MP is talking of the need for a new party, not only because people are complaining about a lack of leadership but because he thinks the independents have failed to deliver and are doomed.
No word about Tony Abbott, who's providing about as much anti-leadership as anyone can handle. Abbott doesn't know where to start with people like Katter - Abbott has done nothing to consolidate LNP gains last August; Katter would only act as he has if he thought Abbott was going backwards. No word about Campbell Newman, who has taken Queensland's LNP from being sidelined by Anna Bligh's magisterial response to natural disasters to being ten points ahead in the polls. Given that Katter is a former Nats minister in the Bjelke-Petersen government, his first port of call should surely be the LNP?
No. Firstly, Katter is too used to calling the shots as head of his own movement, and won't defer to any upstarts from Brisbane or Sydney. Secondly, Katter is an economic moron who would do more harm than good to the Coalition. Thirdly, while Katter can't believed that old-school nostrums have failed, he's not a racist or a kook but even so he can't separate any movement he might lead from Hansonites, League of Rights, LaRoucheites, apocalyptic religious nuts and other wackos who form a disproportionately large section of the Queensland electorate - yet he'll take his chances with these people against Abbott, Newman & Co.
Bob Katter is calling bullshit on Tony Abbott. Oakeshott, Windsor, Crook and others from electorates far from and different to the place Katter calls Quinceland can take their chances. Katter backed Abbott after the last election but has clearly decided the Sydney boy is on a hiding to nothing. If a Coalition government was a real possibility he'd be taking a different tack. Katter would have known about the Coalition's cut to automotive industry assistance even though the press gallery didn't - Bob Brown gets more scrutiny than the alternative Prime Minister from the supposedly relentless media, it seems.
Shanahan can't bring himself to write a story against the Coalition. When the Coalition was tanking in 2007 he became a figure of mirth for insisting that Howard was coming around. Sometimes you've got to write off a dud journalist and go to the essence of what they've written, and let that tell its own story.
Katter might be an eccentric in his presentation and an economic duffer, but he's spent more time in politics than almost anyone. The Joh Nationals went after Howard in 1987 because he was a loser - they still had their misgivings a decade later but bowed to changed political realities. Katter can smell the loser-smell that Tony Abbott reeks of - even though press gallery generally, and the Murdoch press in particular, can't pick it.