A word from Bob Katter

Written by Bob Katter

I sincerely hope one day we wake up.

Kennedy; my home, my heartland

People ask me about how the political landscape has changed in my time. The answer, it is almost unrecognisable.

It is the worst possible kind of crime to sell off and sell out your country. But because I grew up with my political flowering, and as a flame thrower prominent member and a National figure in the Country Party, I once walked with giants. Now I see my country being destroyed by Lilliputians.

People must understand that two per cent of Australia’s population were once the richest people on earth – the ‘kings in grass castles’. But the rest of us came out to find gold, well, those that did went home to Germany, Ireland, America, or wherever. The vast overwhelming bulk of us were trapped on ‘the fatal shore’ – we had to battle not just for a fair go, but survival.

From the late 1800’s the entire executive of the trade union movement in Queensland were jailed for three years with hard labour for having a stoppage. Dozens of strikers and unionists were actually shot dead.

The horror of our situation was that one in 30 men who went down the mines died down there, and ironically one in 30 men who went into the cane fields died in the cane fields.

After 30 years of going to jail, being shot, bashed, never to get reemployed, we secured arbitration.

So that powers that be brought in the Coolies to works mines and Kanaks to work the cane fields and we were back where we started from living on dirt floors, bark walls and bit of galvanised iron on the roof if we were lucky.

And then we stood on our hind legs and we fought, and we fought, and we fought; and we became the richest working class on earth, after Chifley, and Jack McEwen’s ‘Develop Australia’.

I have spent half my life in the bush sleeping under a gum tree. My great uncle died at Gallipoli, my grandmother’s brother died sometime after his release from Changi Prison.

I volunteered to fight in what would be the war with Indonesia (later you either volunteered or were drafted).

I come very much from a pioneering family. My grandmother and grandfather came out to Cloncurry on a stage coach. So if I can’t be patriotic about my country then I don’t know who in this country could be.

When the LNP sold the Port of Darwin I could not think straight for two weeks. The only port in northern Australia, the only port the Americans have got in the South Pacific, the LNP sold to the Chinese. And the Minister responsible left the government on $880,000 per/annum from the same Chinese Darwin port owners, also superannuation and perks of around $300,000 per year. My fury is never going to be abated.

Barnaby Joyce, opened applications for the only available water in a third of Australia (the NT, and neighbouring WA) – the Ord. 31 Australians had applied for that water. 31 Australian applications received and he gave (not sold, gave) all of the Ord water to the Chinese.

Every decent Australian should be sick with disgust and cynicism the way in which the sale of cattle empires such as how Kidman and Co were carried out.

So if I don’t step forward and fight these battles then who in Australia could we expect to?

I walked 1000km when I was prospecting. I know every rock and blade of spinifex and ghost gum in North West Queensland (when you sit your backside on spinifex, you know about it!). I know every turn, every road, every mountain, and every hill. I know the good soil and the bad soil.

And yet I have a perspective on what is happening in our country and for reasons I don’t understand, it seems to me I am the only one in parliament that is going to scream about it – and I am screaming.

There are four things happening in our country which I will fight for as long as I can breathe air through these lungs…

  1. We Australians are being drowned in our own country – They are bringing in 640,000 people a year – almost all eligible for employment. Most are on temporary visas, none will ever go home. They come here from places with no democracy and/or, no rule of law, and/or no industrial awards (will work for $50 a week), and/or no Judaeo/Christian belief system (love all and every one of your fellow man, make the world a better place), and/or no egalitarian traditions (no rigid upper class and all people are equal). These people undermine our pay and conditions and take our jobs.
  2. The free market policies of the major parties have been disastrous. Mostly because the rest of the world is laughing at us. Do the Europeans have free markets? Does China? Does the USA? Ask our dairy and sugar farmers or our mango growers. Does Brazil have free markets? Ask our sugar producers. They have never been able to get their product into these countries.
  3. The sell-off of our country. The collapse of the national economy. The closure of all manufacturing and almost all of our major agricultural processing makes it impossible for us to compete. We now have to buy everything from overseas. Everything you see in your house, the leather in your shoes, the cloth on your back, the biros in your pocket, your mobile, your computer – all imported. Where are we going to get the money from to buy all these things? The only significant exports we have left are iron ore and coal. Both of them are of their very nature, a dwindling resource. Just two quarries.
  4. The cost of living has exploded and been particularly brutal to retirees and young families. The cost of basics; your electricity and food have rocketed. The household electricity price which had been static at $670 for 11 years, over a three year period they deregulated and privatised and the price then soared 300 per cent.
    The price of food; the margin between the farm-gate and Ms. Householder was 108 per cent in 1991; it is now 295 per cent. Deregulation and removal of the farmers’ right to arbitration, meant farmers and households both got shafted. The cost of staying alive in Australia requires reasonable house rents. Australia has some of the highest real estate in the world. The highest electricity in the world. And whilst we produce the cheapest food in the world, we have amongst the highest food prices of any country. This requires the American trust-busting legislation on the supermarket oligopoly. These supermarkets are out to make money for their shareholders, and that’s good, but there is no way they should be able to get away with a nearly 300 per cent mark-up. But with effectively only two buyers and only two sellers, they can charge what they like. The farmers need to have restored the right to arbitration. If the worker has his rights to arbitration (and he should), then so should the farmer. There is no difference between selling your labour and selling the product of your labour.

I don’t come to Parliament with the spirit of revenge. In Parliament I sit under a picture of my hero Red Ted Theodore and Black Jack McEwen; two of the six great men of Australian history. Neither of them we described as forgiving. Nor am I. But this is not about ‘get square’.

I know the giants that built my country. I might have been young, but I was there watching it happen. Our coal, aluminium, iron ore, even our tourism industry – it wasn’t done by the free market advocates, nor the spectators cheering from the grandstands. It was done by the men who stepped into the arena.

When the KAP gets the balance power, ‘and we will’, we will build a people owned rail line into the Galilee. Labor will ensure that the Galilee will never be mined. They have made this abundantly clear on numerous occasions. The LNP could build the rail line tomorrow but have come out saying that they don’t build rail lines (‘foreign investment’ mantra). Could have fooled me, given they are building a $12 billion rail line from Melbourne to Toowoomba.

The KAP will get the balance of power in Qld in the next election. They dipped out by 250 votes from getting it last in the election.

When we secure that power in the State Parliament, the KAP will build the rail line into the Galilee. We will build Hell’s Gates dam and produce seven per cent of Australian’s petrol, 1.5 per cent of its electricity, nearly 10 per cent of Australia’s beef as well as biodiesel and timber and in the not too distant future recycled plastics as well. And all of this with zero emissions. The C02 is badly needed as feed stock for algae ponds. The gross production from Hell’s Gates proper will exceed $3,000 million a year.

$20,000 million from the Galilee, the Yi Pi Pi canal (extended waterway), $7,000 million of super phosphate fertiliser, prawn and Australian crayfish production, giving First Australians the rights to mine silicon in NQ, $35 billion a year and restore their rights to timber, water, quarrying. With the building of ten other planned Hell’s Gates type developments – all within reach with the balance of power.

Just in this small number of projects in N.Q, there is $70 billion in income; there is the establishment of two industries with zero emissions, motor vehicle fuel industry and electricity.

There is no hope of any of these projects ever happening if there is a continuation of the government that we have seen in the last 35 years in Australia. And the modern political arena which has the precautionaries versing the proactionaries reminds me of the free market analogy where the Australian government ‘free marketeers’ send their gladiator into the arena and take his helmet and shield off him. They expect it will make him tough – but the gladiator says, “It won’t make me tough, it will make me dead.”

And yet in spite of all this, I have a tremendous faith in the Australian people.

Who are we? We are descendants from First Australians who did it tough, flat out surviving. We are from convicts. From the Australians who didn’t find the gold and got stranded on that fatal shore. And we created from that, what was up until 30 years ago, the third richest country on Earth.

In WW2, the Germans were stopped at Tobruk – I ask the kids in school “who is the army in Tobruk?” They shout back: “Australians!” When the Japanese were stopped dead in their tracks at Kokoda (beaten for the first time in 800 years of land warfare), I ask the kids, “Who is this army at Kokoda”, they shout out: “Australians!” I get the school kids to hold up the flag, I ask them “who are we?” and they reply at the top of their lungs, “Australians! “Who are we?” Australians! “Who are we?” Australians!”

About the author

Bob Katter

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