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Tuesday, 07 September 2010 14:21

Katter backs Tony Abbott and Coalition


Queensland rural MP Bob Katter will back Tony Abbott's Coalition to form the next Government of Australia, announcing his plans ahead of his independent colleagues and fellow kingmakers Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott.

Mr Katter said he did not know where Mr Windsor or Mr Oakeshott would throw their support, but his pre-announcement is telling.

While lavishing praise on the Rudd Government for policies ranging from broadband to the national electricity grid to regional health - and saving his even more generous praise for Mr Rudd himself - Mr Katter said the Coalition simply had a stronger plan to address his core issues, published last Friday as his so called 20-point wish-list.

The sticking points that held against supporting Labor included the mining tax, the plans for a carbon tax, the refusal to implement a mandated ethanol fuel requirement and the treatment of indigenous Australians' ability to own and manage the lands on which they live. He was hugely critical of the Queensland Government's so-called Wild Rivers legislation.

The simple maths of the parliamentary seating plan means that Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have both secured 74 seats in their race to the 76 needed for a majority.

Both sides now need the backing of both Mr Windsor and Mr Oakeshott, who will make announce who they intend supporting at Parliament House at 3pm.

Mr Katter told a packed press conference inside his modest parliamentary office that the Government's National Broadband Network was clearly a better proposition and praised the Rudd Government for pursuing it "even though their were no votes in it."

But he immediately took the sting out of any criticism of Tony Abbot's broadband plan by saying the Coalition proposal "was not far off."

Mr Katter said the broadband initiatives were good for regional Australia and again praised Kevin Rudd for pursuing the National Broadband Network.

But broadband was not a top 20 issue for the Member for Kennedy, and was not included in wish-list, on which the two parties offers and performance were judged.

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