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How Not to Start an Election Year

It has not been a pleasant week for Katter’s Australian Party, losing two candidates because of hate-filled comments in both the traditional media and on social media website, Twitter. And it would not have been a particularly good week for the gay and lesbian community in Australia, the target of these unhinged outbursts vilifying gays and lesbians. Now the Katter party candidate for the Victorian electorate of Wannon, Tess Corbett and Queensland Senate nominee Bernard Gaynor, a former party national general secretary, will no longer be representing the party at the 2013 federal election.

The first unforgivable, hateful and just plain baseless barbs came from Tess Corbett. The lower house candidate made the headlines for comparing homosexuals to paedophiles and added that it would be a sad day if equal rights for gays and lesbians were granted.

There is absolutely no chance that if homosexuals were given the right to marry, that paedophiles would naturally be given the right to marry children. For anyone to actually suggest that just beggars belief. Where was Tess Corbett found? There is no politician in the history of this country that would have ever countenanced such a move, let alone a majority of parliamentarians in the present day, ready to legalise such a heinous criminal activity.

Tess Corbett, in making such a statement, is quite clearly comparing or at the very least implying, that being a homosexual or engaging in homosexual sex is akin to a criminal act. In case she has not yet noticed, the latter has been outlawed for a while, though granted, it took Tasmania a little while longer than the rest of the country to repeal laws relating homosexual sex. But still, that battle has long been lost.

And then, as if Tess Corbett’s comments were not hostile enough towards the GLBTI community, Queensland Senate hopeful Bernard Gaynor chimed in with some textual diarrhoea. After an earlier tweet backing Tess Corbett after her comments to the media, Mr Gaynor said:

“I wouldn’t let a gay person teach my children and I’m not afraid to say it.”

This tweet at first glance appears to be linked to the debate over whether religious organisations should be allowed to discriminate against the gay and lesbian community in terms of employment. But other tweets make it clear that Gaynor believes parents should have the right to choose whether or not their son or daughter is taught by a gay or lesbian.

Whether a teacher is gay or lesbian will not make a shred of difference to the way a child is taught at school. The curriculum is the curriculum whether the teacher in question is same-sex attracted or not.

And Bernard Gaynor seems concerned too, by implication, that if his son or daughter had a gay or lesbian teacher, they might somehow magically persuade them to be of the same sexual orientation. Well, to put it in the clearest possible terms, being gay is perfectly natural. No amount of lessons from a gay man or a lesbian will transform anyone’s son or daughter into someone attracted to people of the same gender.

Katter’s Australian Party has a history of taking an anti-gay rights stance. Before the Queensland election the party ran an ad campaign which railed against Campbell Newman due to his personal support for same-sex marriage.

To top it all off, the party’s namesake tonight made a ridiculous statement on The Project tonight. Bob Katter claimed he was unaware of any homosexual having committed suicide in north Queensland. He also claimed not to care about the issue. Of course, Bob Katter has a history of wedging his foot firmly in his mouth, so we really should not be surprised.

Without a shadow of a doubt, Katter’s Australian Party are the most socially conservative political party, even to the point of being regressive in their views on the matter.

The rights that the gay and lesbian community have won, particularly over the last 5 years should not be threatened by any political force. We should all be equal under the law.

Thankfully, the electoral prospects of Katter’s Australian Party were not particularly good in the first place. In Queensland, where they had expected to do well electorally they only managed to have two candidates elected to the state parliament.  Then one LNP MLA defected just recently, making the party a band of three in the 89 seat Queensland parliament.

That’s not to say that the party will not go without success at the election. It is certainly a strong possibility that the new party will taste victory in a Senate contest or two, perhaps more. There might be success for Katter’s party in the lower house too, other than Bob Katter winning in Kennedy. Support anything like the levels reached in Queensland is however, almost certainly an impossible prospect.

The election year drama, faux pas and discriminatory statements have already started. There is still at least six months of these unedifying events ahead.

Bob Katter and His Band of Merry Men and Women Should Be Thanked

Overnight many Queenslanders, less than two weeks out from polling day in the state election were introduced to the first major foray of Katter’s Australian Party into election advertising. This ad was not about the market monopoly of Coles and Woolworths, not about the struggles of farmers  trying to live off the land or mining interests trumping those of the agriculture sector. No, it was a heinous anti-gay marriage advertisement which particularly targetted the Leader of the LNP, Campbell Newman and Australian Greens leader Bob Brown, whilst at the same time treating the gay and lesbian community of Queensland with absolute disdain.

The majority of Australian’s should be thanking Bob Katter and his party for this advertisement released overnight. We should be thanking Katter’s Australian Party not because it is a sensationally good advertising campaign against gay marriage, it is not, but because it has probably done more for the cause of marriage equality in its divisive content.

Now, it is of equal disgust to the advertisement itself that some of the response to the campaign has been to resort to low acts like death threats and insults against members of the party. Such behaviour is not on and deserves the same level of condemnation, if not more than the bigoted ad in question.

For some time now, polls on the issue of marriage equality have shown  that the majority of the population think, to steal a phrase from the political lexicon, that “it’s time” for a change. Politicians have generally lagged behind on the issue of marriage equality, even the so-called “small-c conservatives” on the progressive side of politics. There are elements of all parties these days, except it seems, from Katter’s Australian Party who think, not just that marriage equality is inevitable, but that it should happen. It is inevitable too that a majority of politicians will eventually vote in favour of same-sex marriage.

So why does the commercial broadcast for the first time yesterday mean that people in favour of marriage equality owe a debt of gratitude to Katter’s Australian Party? Okay, pick your jaws up off the floor. Those who support gay marriage should be thankful to Bob Katter and his colleagues because the response has highlighted just how much support exists in the community on the topic, again, not excusing the equally shameful response from some in the community.

Aside from helping the cause of marriage equality in its own unique way, the intensely conservative political ad also proves just how little of a contribution that Katter’s Australian Party think they can make, particularly in the “big smoke”. Over all other issues facing the people of Queensland it was decided, in what certainly cannot be classified as “infinite wisdom”, that above cost of living and other economic and social pressures, a small minority of people expressing a want to be married to someone they love is simply the greatest of threats facing Queenslanders in this election.

So a big thank you to you Mr Katter and your 76 candidates across Queensland for raising the prominence of the marriage equality campaign again, which is continuing to gain momentum, without your party’s helpful entry into the debate. Your party must also be thanked for highlighting exactly how few reasons there are to vote for your mob on March 24.

Hi, It’s Bob Katter, from Queensland and I’m Here to Help

Today, Bob Katter, former National, then Independent, now leader of Katter’s Australian Party formally announced a merger with the Queensland Party, started by former LNP Queensland parliamentarian, Aidan McLindon.

The new Katter’s Australian Party will take on its first electoral task at the next Queensland state election, presumably some time early next year.

It can certainly be said that the task of winning seats at a state election for a minor party is easier than at a federal election. It still cannot however, be seen as a very likely outcome. It can be seen as even less likely because there is almost certainly bound to be a big swing on against the ALP at the next election and it will not deliver to the minor parties, but the other major party, the LNP.

Aidan McLindon, you would think, would retain his seat of Beaudesert at the next state election, but that may be less certain as a result of the merger. You would have to think though, that Mr. McLindon, in considering the merger, had an eye on internal seat polling.

Finally, regardless of what ‘surprise’ candidates the party will be unveiling over the common months, their policies are based on ideologies which are too much a mish-mash of right and left on the political spectrum. This would likely see the party not get the right votes where it counts.

But I could be wrong…

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