'Don't Keep Saying That!': Katter Blows Up
Firebrand MP defends Anning "final solution" speech, wants a breakaway North QLD state
It was billed as a potentially explosive showdown featuring some of the nation's most firebrand conservative voices, but Q&A's north Queensland special was a surprisingly sedate back-and-forth about key issues in Australia's most politically crucial state.
Though as expected, it was a few token Bob Katter sonic explosions -- in particular, his ear-splitting reaction to his senator Fraser Anning's vile "final solution" speech -- which proved a major talking point.
Starring Katter, One Nation's Pauline Hanson and maverick Nationals MP George Christensen -- with Labor's Cathy O'Toole and incoming Greens senator Larissa Waters largely relegated to supporting roles -- the Mackay special was criticised weeks before it even aired. Many online had slammed the show for featuring Katter, who defended Anning's speech, with Q&A forced to explain itself and its panel selection.
But while the stage was set for an incendiary performance, it was actually -- thankfully -- not the outrage viewing spectacular some feared, with a mostly decent and reasoned debate about issues from population to power prices, the banking royal commission to the Adani mine. Queensland is seen as the key to winning the next federal election, with many marginal seats in play and "base" issues like power prices and immigration major factors.
And what would a Bob "let a thousand blossoms bloom" Katter Q&A special be without a question on crocodiles?
Hanson was asked by a young woman in a hijab "why did you take so much offence" at Anning's speech, considering the One Nation leader had long espoused similarly Islamophobic sentiments.
"There are people across different religions that have different ideologies, and people who are doing violence in different countries. Why just focus on Muslims every single time?" the woman asked.
"I'm as much an Australian as you."
Hanson gave a reserved answer, saying she was "not out to offend people", but Katter's response to a question on Anning's speech was the loudest contribution of the night.
"Don't keep saying that, Tony!" Katter exploded in reply to host Tony Jones, after the Member for Kennedy previously refused to say the term 'final solution' and instead called it "the FS word".
"It was referring to a vote of the Australian people. A monster called Hitler was referring to the murder of six million people and you're equating the murder of six million people and insulting every person of Jewish descent in this country by doing it."
Earlier Katter had read out a statement from controversial right-wing commentator Avi Yemini, who was most recently in headlines for posting the personal contact details of an ABC journalist online and encouraging his followers to troll him.
Again Hanson distanced herself from Anning, who was formerly a One Nation member and was initially elected to the Senate under the party's banner. She said she didn't know what the term "final solution" even meant, claiming she was "appalled" by Anning's speech.
Hanson was in unusually sedate mode on Monday night, with her only other notable flub being when she joked about her party not being plagued by leadership issues like the Liberals or Labor -- a much easier task to accomplish when most other members of the party have been forced out and the only other MP on the team is a guy who seems just happy to be there in the first place.
Of most political ramification was the seeming budding bromance between Katter and Christensen, the two rogue MPs continually agreeing about issues from immigration to the possible formation of a breakaway state for north Queensland. The two didn't refute the possibility of a northern voting alliance, and said they would act in the interests of their regions.
"I think it's actually a great opportunity for North Queensland MPs to actually band together and demand something for the north because we often get forgotten," Christensen said.
"If we have to cross the floor on something that's a pivotal issue for the north, I'm willing to do that."
Both men said they would make noise in parliament in coming weeks in hopes of extending the current royal commission into banks.
The final question of the night came from a woman on the idea of the state of Queensland splitting in two, creating a new southern and northern state. Waters, Hanson and O'Toole brushed aside the idea, but Christensen and Katter -- both long-term advocates for such an idea -- voiced their support.
"We have the same population as Brisbane. How much longer are we going to keep copping it?" Katter asked, as part of a typically long and rambling answer that didn't really touch on the question.
"I think it's time. Brisbane's closer to Sydney than it is to Cairns and probably more than just geographical reasons. It is closer to them ideologically as well," Christensen said, sticking closer to the point.
"I think we do not get our fair share. We will never get our fair share while we're dictated to by politicians in the south-east corner. The only way to change it is for a separate state."
Let a thousand blossoms bloom, I guess.