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Australian Independents on Immigration, Population and Regional Development

Australian Independents May Decide Election and Future

Independents could decide nation’s future. LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: If this election’s particularly close, we could end up with a hung parliament.

In that case, the balance of power’s likely to be held by three existing independent MPs: Rob Oakeshott, Bob Katter and Tony Windsor.

It’s also possible independents or minor parties could win other seats.

For example, the Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner’s retiring in Melbourne, a seat the Greens are targeting.

So how exactly will the independent MPs already in the parliament act if none of the major parties wins an outright majority, and what are voters in their seats most concerned about this election?

Joining me tonight from Tamworth is Tony Windsor. He’s held the federal seat of New England in NSW since 2001, taking in a chunk of the north-east of the state, including Armidale, Glen Innes and Tenterfield.

And Bob Katter’s with us from Townsville. He’s a former National Party minister who turned independent in 2001. He’s been the Member for Kennedy since 1993, taking in a huge chunk of north Queensland, including Mt Isa, Charters Towers and Innisfail…

“BOB KATTER: Look, you’ve gotta understand that what is happening here in Australia if the independents get the balance of power is that democracy is being restored. You say instability – or, you didn’t, but other people have said instability.

No, just the opposite is true. It’s not instability, it’s democracy. Every other country on Earth, that I know of anyway, has a multiparty system. There’s not just two sides to the argument, and in Australia they’re both the same.

I represent more than half of Australia’s water run-off – the Kennedy electorate. I mean, with just seven per cent of that water in north Queensland, all of north Queensland, and two per cent of our land in north Queensland – I know people will not believe this when they hear this: we can support a population of 60 million people.

Now, if we haven’t got a population of 60 million, we can make a lot of money by selling that product overseas. That’s just two per cent of the land. Now why isn’t it being opened up? Why isn’t some of those resources being used? And there’s just no way out except to say it is immoral to sit on those resources when your nearest neighbour has 80 million of their population going to bed hungry of a night, it’s just simply immoral and it won’t be allowed to continue.

There’s no question about that. So what we are saying to you: there is a different paradigm out there. There is a paradigm of developmentalism and vision that this country has lost. You just develop a little tiny bit of those resources….We don’t want them to go to the cities. We want to take some of the people out of Sydney and Melbourne and put them where they can have a civilised lifestyle, which we can provide for them in Australia.

I mean, if you drop a series of hydrogen bombs from the back of Cairns, the other side of Mareeba, 30 kilometres from Cairns, all the way across to Broome, you won’t kill anybody. There’s nobody living there.

I mean, there’s about 95 per cent of the surface area of Australia – just cut out the little coastal strip and a little dot around Perth: the population’s not much different than when Captain Cook arrived. There’s only 670,000 people living on 95 per cent of the surface area of the country. And, I mean, we’re talking about overpopulation!

I mean, the rest of the world must really laugh at this. I mean – but the concept of developmentalism, the concept of a vision where people can live in a civilised city of 40,000 or 50,000 people, that seems to have been lost completely and it’s gotta be restored and the people will restore it.”

“TONY WINDSOR: Well I think it’s been the worst political campaign that I’ve ever seen.

I think both leaders haven’t shown their real substance. I think the campaign that’s sort of encapsulated by Tony Abbott going to an election with the union movement writing his industrial relations policy and Julia Gillard going to the election with a boat people’s policy written by the Liberal Party shows the unreality that the electorate has actually looked at.

And that’s why I think the polls are so close. People are so undecided, uninspired by the lack of vision in terms of this political campaign. Even the population debate that Bob was just talking about has all been about western Sydney and western Melbourne. It hasn’t been about Western Australia or the other parts of regional Australia.

It’s been a debate that’s been politically marketed into Western Sydney because that’s where both of them think that the balance of power will be actually determined, the winner will be determined in those western suburbs. And that’s a nonsense to have that debate when there’s massive regional areas that haven’t been developed, could be developed.

People – there’s unused infrastructure in many of these communities and the population could expand and grow in some of these areas, but not in Sydney anymore. We’ve done too much of that. But government policy has driven that.

The centralist policies that we’ve had in the past have all been about driving people into a feedlot, and that feedlot’s Sydney and suddenly the feedlot is full. And now we’re talking about closing down the rest of Australia because we can’t fit any more people in the feedlot.”

The most sense one has heard in this whole campaign, not driven by opinion polls, anti immigration or racism…. further, Sydney and Melbourne are not Australia

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