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MPs stick around up here in Wide Bay


NOOSA - The south-east coastal Queensland seat of Wide Bay comes up for grabs again next Saturday when Australia holds its federal election.

Given the wobbly state of my health, a couple of days ago I cast a postal vote at the very desk where I sit writing this. So I'm in for getting rid of the Morrison government.

Which means I didn’t vote for Llew O’Brien, the sitting member on behalf of the Liberal National Party but, as he requires a 13% swing to lose the seat, he won’t miss my vote.

Nor will packing crates be needed at his electorate office in Maryborough.

O’Brien has held the seat since 2016 and, like most of his predecessors, he’s there for the long haul.

He’s a former police officer in the region whose pastime is jiu-jitsu.

Undoubtedly he’ll lose a few points off his margin this time, but will easily retain the seat without recourse to the triangle choke.

The Division of Wide Bay is one of the original 65 seats that contested the first election after Australian federation (independence) in 1901. The seat has had only had nine MPs in the 120 years since.

Its first MP, the Scottish-born Andrew Fisher held the seat for 15 years and was Labor Party prime minister three times between 1908 and 1915, once for a full three-year term.

A William Morris Hughes (1862-1952)
William Morris Hughes (1862-1952)

Fisher found World War I hard going and eventually resigned in October 1915, surrendering the leadership to one of the wild men of Australian politics, London-born William Morris (Billy) Hughes, whose favourite saying was ‘Australia was born on the shores of Gallipoli’ and who “aroused extremes of admiration or hatred” in everyone he met.

The by-election in Wide Bay that followed Fisher’s resignation was won narrowly by Edward Corser (Commonwealth Liberal Party) and he was followed in the seat by his son Bernard, who won it for the recently-formed Country Party in 1928.

Between father and son they held the seat for 50 years. Folks up here just don’t like change.

Brendan Hansen again made the seat Labor’s from 1961 (the election that nearly did for Menzies) to 1974 (the early election that reinforced for Whitlam that Labor rule would always be on a knife edge).

Since then the seat has been Country/National - Clarrie Millar, father of the ABC’s much criticised (for anti-Labor bias) Lisa Millar, held it for 16 years until 1990 and Warren Truss (who as Nationals’ leader became deputy prime minister) held it for 26 years until 2016.

Wide Bay has 100,000 voters, one-third from my retirement refuge in Noosa, which is situated at the far southern end of the electorate and currently has an Independent State MP, who I (working on strategy and communications) helped easily defeat the sitting LNP member in 2017.

Unfortunately, Sandy Bolton has turned out to be the ultimate fence-sitter and a disappointment.

Even though this is a safe seat, a large field of 10 candidates is lined up for 21 May with a full list of the bigger parties (LNP, Labor, Greens, One Nation, UAP) and some interesting others.

Kelli Jacobi is a Constitutional Independent, who wants to restore the “true (1901) Constitution” and repeal all “subsequent unlawful acts” and “reclaim Australian assets and strategic infrastructure sold to foreign powers”.

John Woodward of the Australian Federation Party wants to establish “a government owned People’s Bank to issue money debt free and end the need for taxation”.

Woodward also wants to “prohibit the government from borrowing money”, which would quickly see the end of federal government in Australia altogether.

They are joined by Independent Tim (‘I owe no one anything’) Jerome and his “fully costed plan to fix the rental and public housing crisis by diverting twenty billion from the futures (sic) funds to deliver 30,000 extra housing dwellings a year”.

Daniel Williams (Australian Values Party) wants to build thousands of ‘tiny houses’ on government land.

And Andrea Newland of the Informed Medical Options Party reminds voters that it wouldn’t be an election in these parts without the anti-vaxxers

Some interesting dinner parties amongst that lot.

A John Woodward
John Woodward - policies of no tax & free money may drag in a few starry-eyed punters

Candidates for the 1922 federal election in Wide Bay:

Craig Armstrong- Australian Greens
Tracy Bennett – United Australia Party
Nathan Buckley – One Nation
Kelli Jacobi – Independent
Tim Jerome – Independent
Andrea Newland – Informed Medical Options Party
Llew O’Brien – Liberal National Party
Daniel Williams – Australian Values Party
Geoff Williams – Labor Party
John Woodward – Australian Federation Party


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Lindsay F Bond

Wiki archive says that Katter Senior "served as Minister for the Army in the McMahon Government in 1972" (February to December).

Chips Mackellar

I remember when Bob Katter (Senior) was a Minister in the Bjelke-Petersen Queensland State Government. From memory I think he was Joh Bjelke-Petersen's Minister for Northern Development.

He is famous for a pearl of wisdom which he cast way back then: "The most significant arrival in North Queensland since the arrival of Captain Cook, has been the arrival of the Philippines bride."

He went on to explain that in those days there was no air conditioning in the beastly hot inland Queensland mining towns, and ordinary Australian girls were reluctant to live there.

As a result many miners, ringers, and other Aussies often found it difficult to lead a normal married life there because of the dearth of ordinary Aussie marriage partners.

These days of course it is different. Aircon, the internet, TV, and all the modern hi-tec of today makes inland North Queensland reasonably livable for everyone.

But in those days, Philippine girls born into the beastly hot Philippines saw no climatic difference when living in North Queensland, and so they became ideal marriage partners for outback Aussies, and for some Aussies today, they still do.

But it was Bob Katter's pearl of wisdom which encouraged it all to happen.

Bob Katter Senior was never a minister during his long stint as a federal Country Party MP (1966-90), possibly because he had been an escapee from the Labor Party in the great split of 1957.

It was Bob Katter Junior who became a Queensland State MP (1974-92) with a number of ministries between 1983 and 1989, including Northern Development, which your sharp memory recalled, Chips - it was just the wrong Bob Katter.

Joh lost office in 1989 although Bob Junior retained his seat. But in 1992 he quit state politics to stand for his father's former seat of Kennedy in 1995. He narrowly took the seat from Labour and has since retained it comfortably, increasing his majority at each election.

Bob quit the Coalition to become an independent in 2001 and, turning 77 on 22 May, will return to federal parliament as 'father of the house' with the departure of the previous longest serving MP, Kevin Andrews - KJ

Lindsay F Bond

About longevity in electorates, as reported, "in the 1950s, Bob Katter Senior left the Labor Party and joined the Country Party, standing for and winning the seat of Kennedy at the 1966 poll. He would win the seat a further nine times.

"As Australia’s youngest local government head, Katter oversaw numerous advances, including the provision of housing for pensioners. His advocacy of Aboriginal rights also marked him as ahead of his time...."

About his son, Hon Bob Katter MP, I recall a teenager at Army Cadet camp, quite vocal in expressing his opinion.

Of his opinions currently, and supportably, see:

I've had dealings with both the late Bob Sr and with Bob Jr. Senior could well have been a Labor Party man and was a good man to deal with when I was with the ABC. Junior - eccentric and flamboyant - was a strong supporter of memorialising the Montevideo Maru tragedy of World War II, a position that brought great heart to the relatives of the dead men - KJ

Bernard Corden

The Wirral county constituency where I grew up was one of the safest Tory seats in the United Kingdom under the late Baron Selwyn-Lloyd, CH CBE TD PC QC DL

He was elected to UK parliament in 1945 and was eventually appointed as the House of Commons Speaker in 1971.

It probably explains my deep burning hatred and entrenched suspicion of their organised spivvery.

Always challenge authority, speak the truth to power and never trust a Tory.

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