We live in historic times. War, terrorism, economic upheaval, sexting; the world is changing almost faster than our own ability to complain about it. We’re used to the dazzling pace of change. But even by the monumental, paradigm-shifting, gender-bending, extreme-planking standards of these times, there are still moments that come along which take your breath away with their unexpectedness, their audacity, and their pregnancy with hope for the future.
We here in early 21st-century Australia are fortunate indeed to find ourselves more or less alive to see the birth of a new movement, a new philosophy that promises to change the way we live, the way we think, and the way we dress.
Of course, as is true 60 per cent of the time, I am speaking about Bob Katter, and the recent launch of his new party, Bob Katter’s Australian Party and Stockman’s Surplus Warehouse. Katter is that rarest of things in Australian politics: a man whose eyebrows have been trained to attack burglars. But he is also something even rarer in Australian politics: a person of true VISION. No, I don’t mean "vision". Anyone can have vision in lower-case letters — that is the province of your Gillards, your Abbotts, your Browns, your sissy-livered, chicken-hearted major-party old-paradigm losers whose lack of political audacity is so palpable you have to refer to them in the plural for no good reason. Katter has VISION — the sort of far-sighted inspiration that can only come from living on the land, mingling with the people, strangling buffaloes with your bare hands.
Katter sees an Australia that fulfils its potential, an Australia that aspires to be something better than just "a country". What sort of country? Nobody’s quite sure, the details haven’t been worked out; but it is certain that it will be better. It will be an Australia that will combine the best parts of our past, with the second-best parts of our past, and some other things from our past, and also probably some beer.
To understand Katter’s vision, it is important to understand the man himself. Who is Bob Katter? What makes him tick? Is there any way to stop him ticking? Isn’t it a bit unnerving that he’s ticking all the time? To find answers to these and other frightening questions it is necessary to go back to Katter’s childhood. So probably we will never know.
But what we DO know is that he has always been passionately committed to the welfare of the people of Kennedy, a northern Queensland electorate notable for the fact that 80 per cent of its voters are descended from the same cow. Throughout his entire career, he has not let anything interfere with his devotion to his people — not partisan politics, not commonsense, not the fact Parliament is actually sitting at the time and technically he’s supposed to be in Canberra and not wading through a creek collecting crocodile eggs: nothing. And this is the attitude he will bring to Bob Katter’s Australian and Very Manly Party.
What are the policies of the new party? Well, with a certain amount of reluctance given that policies are a little bit gay, let’s look at them:
Firstly, Katter wants to restrict the market share of Woolworths and Coles to 22.5 per cent. How will he do this? One word — effectively. Not for Bob the politics of ineffectiveness! He will address the problem with a commonsense, fundamentally effective plan which may or may not involve trained sheep. Once Woolworths and Coles are cut down to size, the supermarket sector will be able to bloom and flourish the way God intended it — with everyone being able to shop in those grubby little supermarkets with the narrow aisles and lettuce leaves all over the floor, the way we’ve always wanted to. Utopia? Perhaps. At the very least it will be a golden age for all who enjoys Eastern European diet lemonade.
But Katter’s plans do not end there. He is looking to shake up the whole way government operates in this country. Much like Don Chipp, who once swore to "keep the bastards honest", Katter vows to "chase the bastards around fields with a pitchfork", just as his forebears did, when they travelled to Australia from Lebanon to work the land and twitch violently at unexpected moments.
He will do this by taking control of the crossbenches, via targeted campaigning and small-arms fire, and thereby rolling out an agenda of:
• Stopping free trade. Katter recognises that free trade is out of control and is responsible for literally millions of farmers going bankrupt and being forced into a degrading life of looking sad in photos. Katter’s Australian Party Which Is Not Asian will stop free trade so that we only ever eat our own bananas.
• Stopping the carbon tax. This one is fairly self-explanatory, but basically Katter does not want to ruin everyone on earth’s lives, so the carbon tax, which is explicitly aimed at doing this, must go.
• Stopping privatisation. Katter is vehement in his insistence that the government should own everything.
• Opposing "Big Brother". Under a Katter-controlled parliament, there will be a severe crackdown on all fictional dystopian dictators.
• Letting people fish and boil a billy without a permit, rather than the current system, which requires anyone trying to fish or boil a billy in public be shot.
• Giving land rights to Indigenous Australians, which might be a typo, since that seems more like a policy a Green or a woman would come up with.
In the end, Bob Katter is simply a good old-fashioned traditional-style National, the way Nationals used to be before they sold their soul to the Liberal Party in exchange for a few portfolios and a generous Land Rover allowance for Barnaby Joyce. In the old days Nationals cared about regional Australia. In the old days Nationals had principles, and a true connection to the land. In the old days Nationals used their manure-scented insanity for good, and not evil.
Katter is a throwback to that kind of National, the kind who would proudly stand up and cry, "Yes I may be irrelevant, powerless and intoxicated by tractor fumes, but I will do what is right for my constituents, even if that means living on a diet of blowflies and becoming sexually aroused by rainbow lorikeets, because when you add the salt of the earth to the spice of life, there’s no substitute for good old elbow grease, and with your help, we will ride the kangaroo of patriotism up the hill of prosperity and bet on the outcome of its cage-fight with the dingo of globalisation". What does this mean? Well, nothing. It’s gibberish. Everything people from the country say always is. But at least it is honest gibberish, gibberish wrung from the sweat and toil of good, hard-working Australians. And doesn’t that count for something? Probably not, but isn’t that the point? I don’t know, and I have the guts to admit that, not like Wayne Swan, who wouldn’t have the guts to admit something even if you paid him in solid gold emu feathers, which under the Australian Party will be legal tender.
Let me tell you, folks, the voice of Katter is the voice of Australia — shrill, urgent, and constantly on the brink of bursting into tears and suffering a massive heart attack. Don’t you want to hear that voice ring out across the land, speaking from the heart and making Australia great again through a potent mixture of passion, xenophobia and hyperventilation? Don’t you want to put the "Ian" back in "Australian"?
After all, as Katter himself says, "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". Can you honestly say any different?
Bob’s looking for candidates now, people. It’s time to step up. Take the plunge. Sign up for Katter’s Australian Party and Spit Roast, and help transform a once-proud nation, once more, into the babbling, schizophrenic jewel of the South Pacific.
Do as he says, citizens. God only knows what will happen if we don’t.
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