Blood feud might sink deal
THE fierce feud between Federal Nationals Leader Warren Truss and big-hatted Independent Queensland MP Bob Katter may decide whether Labor or the Coalition wins government.
And it’s mostly over the price of milk.
Mr Katter, who trounced all his opponents to hold the North Queensland seat of Kennedy, does not like Mr Truss, from Maryborough, and makes no secret of it.
And Mr Truss confirmed yesterday: “We don’t talk very much. He’s a constant critic of mine.”
Bob Katter is now working in a block with two other Independents, and even if the Coalition wins Hasluck, it will likely need three of those Independents’ declared support.
Party insiders are aware Mr Katter may seek to strike a deal that removes Mr Truss as Nationals leader, and Deputy Prime, Minister before committing to support the Coalition.
“I don’t think the relationship’s that bitter,” Mr Truss said. “We choose our leaders. I think Katter doing that is hypothetical fantasy.”
But as recently as Sunday morning, just 14 hours after the polls had closed, Mr Katter slammed Warren Truss on Tony Eastley’s ABC AM program.
“I just ask the people of Australia, was it good to deregulate the dairy industry? Mr Truss facilitated and precipitated that.” Mr Katter said.
“The price of milk went up dramatically. Our exports of cheese and all of those things dropped dramatically. It was Warren Truss who was the (Nationals) leader at the time.”
However, Mr Truss denies he was responsible for dairy deregulation.
“It was the State Government. All we did was offer the farmers a $2 billion compensation package,” he said.
It is believed Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have called Mr Katter, who was, a staffer confided yesterday, sitting back in his electorate ‘catching his breath and evaluating his position’.
Warren Truss was also back in his electorate saying: “It may be that a stable government will require all three of the Independents. Meanwhile, this is empty speculation. I do know that people don’t want another election.”
Meanwhile, the Independent Member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott, is understood to have been offered a ministerial position by Julia Gillard, which would take him from a backbencher’s package of about $180,000 to $250,000.
It was not certain yesterday whether Tony Abbott would match the deal.