Bob Katter

Bob Katter

Bob Katter.jpg
Leader of Katter's Australian Party
In office
5 June 2011 β€“ 3 February 2020
Preceded by Party established
Succeeded by Robbie Katter
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 β€“ 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 β€“ 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 β€“ 25 August 1992
Preceded by Bill Longeran
Succeeded by Seat abolished
Personal details
Robert Carl Katter

(1945-05-22) 22 May 1945 (age 75)
Cloncurry, Queensland, Australia
Political party Katter's Australian (since 2011)
Other political
National (until 2001)
Independent (2001–2011)
Relations Carl Katter (brother)
Alex Douglas (nephew)
See Katter family
Children including Robbie
Parents Bob Katter Sr.
Mabel Horn
Residence Charters Towers, Queensland, Australia
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
Branch/service Australian Army Reserve
Years of service 1964–1972[1]
Rank Second Lieutenant
Unit 49th Battalion, Royal Queensland Regiment

Robert Carl Katter (born 22 May 1945) is an Australian politician who has been a member of the House of Representatives since 1993. He was previously active in state politics from 1974 to 1992. Katter was a member of the National Party until 2001, when he left to sit as an independent. He formed his own party, Katter's Australian Party, in 2011.

Katter was born in Cloncurry, Queensland. His father, Bob Katter Sr., was also a politician. Katter was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly at the 1974 state election, representing the seat of Flinders. He was elevated to cabinet in 1983, under Joh Bjelke-Petersen, and served as a government minister until the National Party's defeat at the 1989 state election.

Katter left state politics in 1992, and the following year was elected to federal parliament standing in the Division of Kennedy (his father's old seat). He resigned from the National Party in the lead-up to the 2001 federal election, and has since been re-elected four more times as an independent and twice for his own party. Katter is known for his social conservatism, and is frequently described as a "maverick" by the media. His son, Robbie Katter, is a state MP in Queensland, the third generation of the family to serve in parliament.[2]

Early career and family background

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

Katter was born in Cloncurry, Queensland, the son of Robert Cummin Katter, the member for Kennedy from 1966 to 1990, and his wife, Mabel. His paternal grandparents went to Cloncurry in a stage coach around 1900. His great grandfather (paternal), a Lebanese migrant, owned clothing stores throughout north Queensland.

His father, Bob Katter Sr., was an Australian politician who served in the House of Representatives from 1966 to 1990, representing the National Party (originally named the Country Party).

Katter attended the University of Queensland, where he studied law, but later dropped out without graduating. While at university, Katter served as Vice President of the University Law Society, and was President of his University College. As a sergeant, finishing after seven years as Lieutenant, he served in the Citizens Military Forces.

During their 1964 Australian tour, The Beatles were pelted by eggs from some unknown assailants. Katter, then a university student, came forward more than 40 years later and claimed his involvement, saying that it was "an intellectual reaction against Beatlemania."[3]

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

Political career

Katter's father was a member of the Australian Labor Party until 1957, when he left during the Labor split of that year. He later joined the Country Party, now the Liberal National Party. The younger Katter was a Country Party member of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland from 1974 to 1992, representing Flinders in north Queensland. He was Minister for Northern Development and Aboriginal and Islander Affairs from 1983 to 1987, Minister for Northern Development, Community Services and Ethnic Affairs from 1987 to 1989, 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 under Mike Ahern, but ulitimaly resigning from Cabinet along with Russell Cooper. He served on the backbench. Then appointed again to Cabinet in the traditional number two position of Mines & Energy. This was under the Bjelke-Petersen's factions restoration to power.

Katter did not run for re-election to state Parliament in 1992, he transferred to federal politics. He ran as the National candidate in his father's former seat of Kennedy, facing his father's successor, Labor's Rob Hulls. 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.[4] 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.[5] 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 a percentage vote in the high sixties after preferences were distributed.[6][7][8][9]

On 5 June 2011, Katter launched a new political party, Katter's Australian Party, which he said would "unashamedly represent agriculture".[10] He made headlines after singing to his party's candidates during a meeting on 17 October 2011, saying it was his "election jingle".[11]

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 back Kevin Rudd (ALP) for Prime Minister following Julia Gillard's (Prime Minister) live cattle (Rudd, within weeks, reopened the live export market), Katter still suffered a primary-vote swing of over 17 points. His name heavily associated with Rudd. In the end, Katter was re-elected on Labor preferences, suffering a two-party swing of 16 points to the Liberal National party.[12][13]

In the 2016 election, however, Katter retained his seat of Kennedy, with an increased swing of 8.93% towards him.[14]

On 15 August 2017 Katter announced that the Turnbull Government could not take his support for granted in the wake of the 2017 Australian parliamentary eligibility crisis, which ensued over concerns that several MPs held dual citizenship and thus may be constitutionally ineligible to serve in Parliament. Katter added that if one of the affected MPs, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, lost his seat, the Coalition could not count on his support for confidence and supply.[15]

In November 2018, Katter secured funds for three inland dam-irrigation schemes in North Queensland.[16]

In the 2019 election, Katter was returned to his seat of Kennedy with a swing of 2.9% towards him, in spite of an unfavourable redistribution of his electorate.[17]

Political views

Katter is known as an unabashed social conservative. His views on economic matters echo 1950s Labor policy as he opposes privatisation and economic deregulation and strongly supporting traditional Country Party (collective) statutory marketing.[citation needed]

He has a very sporadic attendance record in parliament, and by the end of 2019 had only attended 42% of votes on the floor of parliament, the lowest of any member of parliament.[18]

In 1997, Katter advocated increasing the Child Support Scheme to lessen the financial maintenance obligations for parents with dependents.[citation needed]

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. He has always and still believes there was no conspiracy.[19] Katter constantly quotes Magna Carta and the American Declaration of Independence, Archbishop Langton, and Thomas Jefferson – "the right to bear arms", saying always that there is something inherently disturbing with a society where the only people that have guns are the people in uniforms.[citation needed]

Katter has opposed enacting climate change legislation to control emissions.[20] He advocates for measures that reduce carbon footprints.[21]

Katter has championed the mandating of ethanol fuel content. He has led protests against the importation of bananas, and constantly challenges the supermarket concentration of power with Coles and Woolworths.[22]

In the aftermath of the 2010 hung federal election, Katter offered a range of views on the way forward for government. Two other former National Party MPs, both independents from rural electorates, Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott[23] decided to support an ALP Government. Katter presented his 20 points document and asked the major parties to respond before deciding which party he would support.[24] As a result he broke with Windsor and Oakeshott and supported the Abbott LNP for Government.

On 7 September 2010, Katter announced his support for a Liberal/National Party coalition minority government.[25]

The sobriquet 'Mad Katter' was coined by his opponents to describe his nationalistic developmentalism.[26][27][28]

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.[29][30] Katter also said "mind you, if there are more, then I might take to walking backwards everywhere!" Katter voted against the Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act, 1994 (Cth), which decriminalised homosexuality in Tasmania.[31] He does not support same-sex marriage.[32] His response to the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey result went viral, as Katter found the issue of crocodiles killing people in North Queensland more pressing as the premise of the interview was that the plebiscite wasn't to be discussed.[33]

In December 2017, Katter was one of only four members of the House of Representatives to oppose the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 legalising same-sex marriage in Australia.[34]


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

See also


  1. ^ "The Hon. (Bob) Robert Carl Katter". Archived from the original on 3 August 2018. Retrieved 16 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b "The Hon Bob Katter MP, Member for Kennedy, Queensland". Australian Parliament House website. Parliament of Australia. Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  3. ^ Townsend, Ian (30 June 2004). "I am the egg man: Katter". The World Today. Australia: ABC Radio. Archived from the original on 12 May 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
  4. ^ "Division of Bowman". Federal election, 1993. Adam Carr. 13 March 1993. Archived from the original on 26 August 2015.
  5. ^ Adam, Carr. "1998 Qld House of Representatives Results". Archived from the original on 21 February 2018.
  6. ^ Adam, Carr. "2001 Qld House of Representatives Results". Archived from the original on 21 February 2018.
  7. ^ Adam, Carr. "2004 Qld House of Representatives Results". Archived from the original on 26 August 2015.
  8. ^ Adam, Carr. "2007 Qld House of Representatives Results". Archived from the original on 21 February 2018.
  9. ^ Adam, Carr. "2010 Qld House of Representatives Results". Archived from the original on 21 February 2018.
  10. ^ Marszalek, Jessica (5 June 2011). "Katter's party to 'unashamedly represent agriculture'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 14 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Katter puts the fun into party briefing". Herald Sun. Australian Associated Press. 17 October 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  12. ^ Archived 9 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Katter in clear" Archived 2 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  14. ^ 26. "Kennedy, QLD". Australian Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 19 July 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2017.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Bickers, Claire; Le Messurier, Danielle (15 August 2017). "Katter refuses to guarantee support". The Courier-Mail. News Corp Australia Network. Archived from the original on 21 August 2017.
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Facebook; Twitter. "How does Bob Katter vote on issues that matter to you?". They Vote For You. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  19. ^ "Katter accused of promoting Port Arthur massacre conspiracy theory". Australia: ABC News. 20 June 2001. Archived from the original on 19 July 2001. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  20. ^ "Katter throws crocs into climate debate". Australia: ABC News. 12 August 2009. Archived from the original on 25 August 2010. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
  21. ^ Katter's Australian Party (25 August 2011). "Another milestone for clean energy corridor". Australia. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ Foley, Meraiah (25 August 2010). "Rural Lawmakers Hold Key in Australian Election". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 20 January 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2010.
  24. ^ Rodgers, Emma (3 September 2010). "'Potent' Katter's arm twisted by Rudd". Australia: ABC News. Archived from the original on 3 August 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  25. ^ Saulwick, Jacob; Davis, Mark. "Katter supports Abbott". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  26. ^ Chvastek, Nicole (25 August 2010). "The Mad Katter .. and the Frankston Eviction Debacle". ABC Radio. Australia. Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  27. ^ Birmingham, John (24 August 2010). "The joys and pains of a well hung parliament". Brisbane Times. Archived from the original on 27 August 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  28. ^ Lewis, Steven; Ironside, Robyn (25 August 2010). "Mad Katter denies kill threat". The Advertiser. Australia. Archived from the original on 27 August 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  29. ^ Seccombe, Mike (4 March 1994). "Bottom Line For Katter". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 2. Archived from the original on 10 October 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  30. ^ Wright, Tony (24 August 2011). "No gays, Bob? Try closer to home". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  31. ^ Roberts, Greg (1 April 2000). "Katter-brained". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 42.
  32. ^ "Gay marriage ridicule 'damages youths'". The Sydney Morning Herald. 16 August 2011. Archived from the original on 20 September 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
  33. ^ "Bob Katter's Rant About Same Sex Marriage And Crocodile Attacks Is Going Viral". Triple M. 20 November 2017. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  34. ^ "House of Representatives Hansard THURSDAY, 7 DECEMBER 2017". Retrieved 8 December 2017.

External links

Parliament of Queensland
Preceded by
William Lonergan
Member for Flinders
District abolished
Political offices
Preceded by
Val Bird
Minister for Northern Development and Aboriginal and Island Affairs
Succeeded by
Title next held by
Anne Warner
as Minister for Aboriginal and Islander Affairs
Preceded by
Minister for Northern Development and Community Services
Succeeded by
Preceded by
John Herbert
as Minister for Community Services
Preceded by
Minister for Northern Development, Community Services and Ethnic Affairs
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