Meet Queensland’s new power couple

 

QUEENSLAND political mavericks Pauline Hanson and Bob Katter are joining forces in a bid to increase their political clout, influence the next state election and steal support from the major parties.

The informal alliance will begin tomorrow with a landmark joint drought tour in country Queensland, where the Morrison Government is facing pressure to do more to help parched farmers, and the Palaszczuk administration remains under siege from voters.

Bob Katter and Pauline Hanson are teaming up. Picture: Kym Smith
Bob Katter and Pauline Hanson are teaming up. Picture: Kym Smith

Senator Hanson labelled Mr Katter an "iconic figure", while the Kennedy MP lauded the One Nation leader's political "courage", revealing the pair was "burying their differences" because they were furious with the Government's drought response. The new political power couple will also crank up pressure on the already tense relationship between some Nationals and federal Liberal MPs.

They will keep their parties separate but work together in Canberra and ahead of next year's crucial state election, where many regional voters are disenchanted with the ALP.

Their four-day "Drought Tour with Pauline and Bob" kicks off tomorrow in Charleville, Cunnamulla and Roma where they will ramp-up criticism of the Federal Government's drought assistance package.

"We have different political parties with very serious differences but we are burying those differences,'' Mr Katter said.

"The very serious nature of the drought is why we are burying the politics. And I think any proud Australian does not want to see the nation's third-biggest export industry continue its collapse."

The Government is providing billions of dollars of financial help to drought-stricken farmers. However, Senator Hanson and Mr Katter have accused the Government of being too slow with its responses and have savaged the Nationals for failing their own.

Senator Hanson wants the Government to subsidise accountant costs to help farmers fill out drought assistance paperwork and help with practical issues such as providing more fodder to starving cattle, which is technically a state responsibility, and help them clean out dams, wells and bores.

Both revealed they could also use each other to introduce federal bills, as Mr Katter has no representative in the Senate, and Senator Hanson has none in the House of Representatives.

Senator Hanson said she would continue to pressure the PM not to kick farmers off the Farm Household Allowance after four years "when refugees and unemployed go unchecked".

"If there's one thing the Katters and One Nation have in common, it's that we work for the people and have the country's interest at heart," she said.

"I've spent the past week on fruit and vegetable farms in Bowen and Mackay, cane farms at Proserpine and a dairy farm on the back side of Toowoomba. I will have travelled over 5000km by the end of next week just visiting farmers and rural communities, so I'll have an even better understanding of what this Government needs to do to help drought affected communities."

Mr Katter said the partnership was a new one, but the pair have history.

"Pauline showed immense courage over the issue of (immigration) into Australia. Now, our policies are a lot different than hers on this, but she was the first person that had the courage to stand up and say the things she said. I did what I could for our friendship when people were trying to put her in jail ... I regret we haven't been as close in recent years, but our party people work well with their party people."



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