Bob Katter

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The Honourable
Bob Katter Jr.
Bob Katter.jpg
Leader of Katter's Australian Party
Assumed office
5 June 2011
Deputy Ray Hopper
Robbie Katter
Preceded by Party established
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Kennedy
Assumed office
13 March 1993
Preceded by Rob Hulls
Minister for Mines and Energy
of Queensland
In office
25 September 1989 – 7 December 1989
Premier Russell Cooper
Preceded by Martin Tenni
Succeeded by Thomas Gilmore (Mines)
Tony McGrady (Energy)
Minister for Development and Community Services of Queensland
In office
7 November 1983 – 25 September 1989
Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen
Michael Ahern
Russell Cooper
Preceded by Thomas Gilmore
Succeeded by Martin Tenni
Member of the Queensland Parliament
for Flinders
In office
7 December 1974 – 25 August 1992
Preceded by Bill Longeran
Succeeded by Seat abolished
Personal details
Born Robert Carl Katter Jr.
(1945-05-22) 22 May 1945 (age 71)
Cloncurry, Queensland, Australia
Political party Australian (since 2011)
Other political
National (until 2001)
Independent (2001—2011)
Spouse(s) Susan O'Rourke (m. 1970)
Relations 6 siblings
Children 5
Parents Robert Carl and Mabel (née Horn) Katter
Residence Charters Towers, Queensland
Education Mount Carmel College
St. Columba Catholic College
Alma mater University of Queensland
Occupation Union delegate
(Australian Workers' Union)
Mining executive
Profession Trade unionist
Military service
Allegiance Commonweath of Australia
Service/branch Australian Army Reserve
Years of service 1964—1972[1]
Rank Australian Army OF-1a.svg Second Lieutenant
Unit 49th Battalion, Royal Queensland Regiment

Robert Carl Katter Jr. (born 22 May 1945) is an Australian federal politician, a member of the Australian House of Representatives since March 1993 for the Division of Kennedy, and the leader of Katter's Australian Party. He began his federal parliamentary career as a member of the National Party of Australia but left the party in 2001, holding the seat as an independent for ten years, when he formed his own party, which was registered in September 2011.

Prior to his election to federal politics, Katter was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, from 1974-92, representing the seat of Flinders for the National Party. Katter was a minister in the Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen-led National Party government, holding various portfolios between 1983-89.[2]

Early career and family background[edit]

Katter early in his federal political career.

Katter was born in Cloncurry, Queensland, the son of Robert Carl Katter, the member for Kennedy from 1966-90, and his wife, Mabel, and raised Catholic[3] Katter Jr. is 4th, possibly 5th generation Australian.[4][5]

His father, Bob Katter Sr., ran a clothing store and a picture theatre in Cloncurry in 1942 and was a pioneer for the rights of the Indigenous community – taking down a barrier separating the whites from the blacks and giving Aboriginal station hands store credit for boots and clothes for station hand work. Bob Katter Jr. was an investor in cattle and mining interests before entering politics via the Queensland state parliament in 1974.[citation needed]

Katter attended the University of Queensland, where he studied law, but later dropped out without graduating. Whilst at university, Katter ran for the student union and was President of the University Law Society. He later said of his tertiary education that it was probably a good thing he didn't "intellectually prostitute" himself.[6][7] He served in the Citizens Military Forces, reaching the rank of second lieutenant.[2]

During their 1964 Australian tour, The Beatles were pelted by eggs from some unknown assailants. Katter, then a university student, later came forward and admitted his involvement, in what he explained was an "intellectual reaction against Beatlemania".[8]

His son Robert Jr. ("Bob") won the seat of Mount Isa in the 2012 Queensland state election.

Political career[edit]

Katter (left) at a Queensland Day ceremony with Mike Reynolds (right) c. 1986.

Katter's father was a member of the Australian Labor Party until 1957, when he left during the Labor split of that year and joined the Liberal Party. He later joined the Country Party, the forerunner of the National Party. The younger Katter was a Country Party member of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland electoral district of Flinders from 1974-92. In Queensland, he was Minister for Northern Development and Aboriginal and Islander Affairs from 1983-87, Minister for Northern Development, Community Services and Ethnic Affairs from 1987-89, Minister for Community Services and Ethnic Affairs in 1989, Minister for Mines and Energy in 1989, and Minister for Northern and Regional Development for a brief time in 1989 until the Nationals were defeated in that year's election.[2]

While in the Queensland Parliament, Katter junior was a strong supporter of Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, though he remained in cabinet after Bjelke-Petersen was ousted in a 1987 party room revolt.[9]

Katter did not run for re-election to state Parliament in 1992 as Flinders was abolished at that election and he had decided to run for his father's former federal electorate. He faced Labor's Rob Hulls, who had succeeded his father upon retirement. Despite name recognition, Katter trailed Hulls for most of the night. On the eighth count, a Liberal candidate's preferences flowed overwhelmingly to Katter, allowing him to defeat Hulls by 4,000 votes.[10] He would not face another contest nearly that close for two decades.

Katter was re-elected with a large swing in 1996, and was re-elected almost as easily in 1998.[citation needed] However, when he transferred to federal politics, he found himself increasingly out of sympathy with the federal Liberal and National parties on economic and social issues.[citation needed] In 2001, he resigned from the National Party and easily retained his seat as an independent at the general elections of 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010, each time ending up with almost 70 percent of the vote after preferences were distributed.[citation needed]

On 5 June 2011, Katter launched a new political party, Katter's Australian Party, which he said would "unashamedly represent agriculture".[11] He made headlines after singing to his party's candidates during a meeting on 17 October 2011, saying it was his "election jingle".[12]

In the 2013 election, however, Katter faced his first serious contest since his initial run for Kennedy in 1993. He had gone into the election holding the seat with a majority of 18 percent, making it the second-safest seat in Australia. However, reportedly due to anger at his decision to direct Senate preferences to Labor, he suffered a primary-vote swing of over 17 points. In the end, Katter was re-elected on Labor preferences, suffering a two-party swing of 16 points to the Liberal National Party.[13][14]

In April 2017, Triple J brought their One Night Stand to Mount Isa where Bob Katter met and had a photo taken with Lee Hartney from The Smith Street Band.[citation needed]

Political views[edit]

Katter is known as an unabashed social conservative. On economic issues, like his father, Katter retains elements of socialist political views from the 1950s, including opposition to privatisation and economic deregulation.

Katter is firmly in support of indigenous labour being used to build indigenous housing. In 2010 during discussion of the Native Title Amendment Bill, he stated: "Your former Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, in my presence and in the presence of the Mayor of Cairns and the Mayor of Yarrabah, made a commitment that the houses would be built by local Indigenous labour. So we had a commitment that they would be built by local Indigenous workers to a level of 30 per cent. I will tell you what the 20 per cent means—it means that we will be carrying the bricks and carrying the water and carrying lunch and doing the sweeping up afterwards, on $40,000 a year, and the whitefella fly-ins will come in on $80,000 a year and build the houses for us, because we are incompetent Murris; we are not capable of building our own houses. The problem for the government is that we built over 2,500 houses—again, do not quote me on the figures as I would have to check on them—with exclusively Indigenous local labour. If you think it was easy, it was not—it was pretty scary, as the minister, to take that decision. I took that decision on a number of houses, and they worked out well, so we took the same decision on a lot more, and then we did the whole program. So why does the government have to go back to 20 per cent? Why? Why can’t you create jobs for the people there?"[15]

In 1996, Katter supported his National Party colleague Bob Burgess against critics after Burgess made controversial comments including a characterisation of Australian citizenship ceremonies as "dewogging". Katter described critics of Burgess as "little slanty-eyed ideologues who persecute ordinary average Australians."[16]

Two weeks later, Katter complained that it was "nigh on impossible" to send children from his area to boarding schools "unless you're rich or unless you happen to be of Aboriginal descent".[16] Pauline Hanson later said that Katter would be welcome to join her One Nation party if he wanted to leave the Coalition.[17]

In 1997, Katter advocated changing the Child Support Scheme to lessen the financial maintenance obligations for non-custodial parents. He claimed there was an "anti-male bias" in the scheme, and that "in 90 per cent of cases the bloke has done nothing wrong [and] the woman was at fault".[18]

An opponent of the tougher gun control laws introduced in the wake of the 1996 massacre in Port Arthur, Tasmania, Katter was accused in 2001 of signing a petition promoted by the Citizens Electoral Council (CEC), an organisation that claims the Port Arthur massacre was a conspiracy.[19]

He has a complicated approach to climate change. He has opposed enacting legislation to control emissions: "I mean, if you could imagine 20 or 30 crocodiles up there on the roof, and if all that roof was illumination, and saying that we wouldn't see anything in this room because of a few croco-roaches up there", he continued, "are you telling me seriously that the world is going to warm because there's 400 parts per million of CO2 up there?"[20] However he advocates for measures that reduce carbon footprints.[21] These include measures he claims "reduce carbon emissions well beyond any current carbon reducing initiatives planned by the State and Federal Government".[22]

Katter has supported ethanol fuel subsidies, is against the importation of bananas into Australia, and wants to smash the supermarket duopoly of Coles and Woolworths.[23]

In the aftermath of the 2010 federal election, Katter offered a range of views on the way forward for a minority government with the support of three former members of the National Party, Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and himself, who were all re-elected as independent members of parliament from rural electorates.[24] Katter stated his vote would go to "whoever gives us the right to survive".[25] He presented a document titled 20 points and asked the major parties to respond before deciding which party he would support.[26] The sobriquet 'Mad Katter' was coined by the media to describe Katter and his ideas.[27][28][29]

On 7 September 2010, Katter announced his support for a Liberal/National Party coalition minority government.[30]

In November 1989, Katter claimed there were almost no homosexuals in North Queensland. He promised to walk backwards from Bourke if they represented more than 0.001 percent of the population.[31] Katter voted against the Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act, 1994/ {{{4}}} (Cth), which decriminalised homosexuality in Tasmania.[32]

In August 2011, Katter said the prospect of same-sex marriage "deserves to be laughed at and ridiculed".[33] The following week, his half-brother Carl, who is openly gay, spoke to the Ten Network, saying of Katter's comments, "It's hurtful, it's dangerous, it's damaging, and it's really inappropriate".[34]


  • Bob Katter, An Incredible Race of People: A Passionate History of Australia (Millers Point, New South Wales: Murdoch Books Australia, 2012).

See also[edit]

DodgerBlue flag waving.svg Conservatism portal


  1. ^ "The Hon. (Bob) Robert Carl Katter". Who's Who in Australia Online. ConnectWeb. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Hon Bob Katter MP, Member for Kennedy, Queensland". Australian Parliament House website. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 3 June 2016. 
  3. ^ Fitzgerald, Ross (24 August 2010). "Bob Katter plays hard in crusade for the bush". The Australian. Retrieved 30 October 2010. 
  4. ^ Who do they think they are? – Sydney Morning Herald
  5. ^ Jones, Barry (8 May 1990). "Death of Hon R.C. Katter". Hansard. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 25 August 2010. 
  6. ^ Profile,; accessed 18 May 2017.
  7. ^ Profile,; accessed 18 May 2017.
  8. ^ Townsend, Ian (30 June 2004). "I am the egg man: Katter". The World Today. Australia: ABC Radio. Retrieved 29 August 2010. 
  9. ^ Chandler, Jo (28 August 2010). "Big mouth will need to do some fast talking if he backs Labor". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 31 August 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "Division of Bowman". Federal election, 1993. Adam Carr. 13 March 1993. 
  11. ^ Marszalek, Jessica (5 June 2011). "Katter's party to 'unashamedly represent agriculture'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 June 2011. 
  12. ^ "Katter puts the fun into party briefing". Herald Sun. AAP. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2012. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Katter in clear",; accessed 18 MAy 2017.
  15. ^ Australian Parliament House of Representatives (25 November 2010). "NATIVE TITLE AMENDMENT BILL (NO. 1) 201 Debate". Hansard. Retrieved 30 March 2012. 
  16. ^ a b Milliken, Robert (15 February 1996). "Keating pledges referendum on the monarchy". The Independent. Retrieved 18 May 2017. 
  17. ^ Grattan, Michelle (2 April 2001). "Katter, Kelly come on down: Hanson". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 7. 
  18. ^ "Editorial: Putting children first". The Age. Australia. 13 June 1997. p. 14. 
  19. ^ "Katter accused of promoting Port Arthur massacre conspiracy theory". ABC News. Australia. 20 June 2001. Retrieved 25 August 2010. 
  20. ^ "Katter throws crocs into climate debate". ABC News. Australia. 12 August 2009. Retrieved 25 August 2010. 
  21. ^ Katter's Australian Party (25 August 2011). "Another milestone for clean energy corridor". Australia. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  22. ^ Katter's Australian Party (March 2012). "Reconstructing Queensland Highlights Biofuels" (PDF). Australia. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  23. ^ Harvey, Michael (23 August 2010). "Six men who could hold the key to Australia's government". Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 25 August 2010. Retrieved 25 August 2010. 
  24. ^ Foley, Meraiah (25 August 2010). "Rural Lawmakers Hold Key in Australian Election". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 August 2010. 
  25. ^ "They said it". ABC News. Australia. 23 August 2010. Retrieved 3 June 2016. 
  26. ^ Rodgers, Emma (3 September 2010). "'Potent' Katter's arm twisted by Rudd". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 3 June 2016. 
  27. ^ Chvastek, Nicole (25 August 2010). "The Mad Katter .. and the Frankston Eviction Debacle". ABC Radio. Australia. Retrieved 27 August 2010. 
  28. ^ Birmingham, John (24 August 2010). "The joys and pains of a well hung parliament". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 27 August 2010. 
  29. ^ Lewis, Steven; Ironside, Robyn (25 August 2010). "Mad Katter denies kill threat". The Advertiser. Australia. Retrieved 27 August 2010. 
  30. ^ Saulwick, Jacob; Davis, Mark. "Katter supports Abbott". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 September 2010. 
  31. ^ Seccombe, Mike (4 March 1994). "Bottom Line For Katter". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 2. 
  32. ^ Roberts, Greg (1 April 2000). "Katter-brained". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 42. 
  33. ^ "Gay marriage ridicule 'damages youths'". The Sydney Morning Herald. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  34. ^ "Bob Katter's gay brother speaks out". ABC News. Australia. 23 August 2011. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of Queensland
Preceded by
William Lonergan
Member for Flinders
1974 – 1992
District abolished
Political offices
Preceded by
Val Bird
Minister for Northern Development and Aboriginal and Island Affairs
1983 – 1986
Succeeded by
Title next held by
Anne Warner
as Minister for Aboriginal and Islander Affairs
Preceded by
Minister for Northern Development and Community Services
1986 – 1987
Succeeded by
Preceded by
John Herbert
as Minister for Community Services
Preceded by
Minister for Northern Development, Community Services and Ethnic Affairs
1987 – 1989
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Michael Ahern
as Minister for Ethnic Affairs
Succeeded by
Martin Tenni
as Minister for Northern Development
Preceded by
Minister for Community Services and Ethnic Affairs
Succeeded by
Thomas Gilmore
Preceded by
Martin Tenni
Minister for Mines and Energy
Succeeded by
Thomas Gilmore
as Minister for Mines
Succeeded by
Tony McGrady
as Minister for Energy
Preceded by
Thomas Gilmore
Minister for Northern and Regional Development
Succeeded by
Keith De Lacy
as Minister for Regional Development
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Rob Hulls
Member for Kennedy