Keith Topolski discusses why Bob Katter's new political party is a paradox in democracy.
Every once in a while, there is a convergence of political rebellion sufficient in stature to warrant someone on the fringes of political thought starting a new political party.
These parties are almost always founded on the premise that the major political players are somehow less than moral, and they need to be taken down a peg.
We've seen how the major parties are beholden to big business (Greens), pander to the Aboriginal lobby (One Nation) and how they're all just bastards (Democrats).
On each occasion, these new political brands have found themselves quickly discarded into the loony bin of political thought through their shrillness and negativity.
Sadly, what could well be a genuine challenger in the battle of political ideas is about to do exactly the same.
The always curious Bob Katter has decided to kick off his own political party, somewhat on the basis that "you can't even boil a billy anymore".
Katter's basic social premise is sound: Too little freedom in Australia because Government is too big.
He has a good point. The amount of regulation that goes on in our lives is obscene, and has turned Australia from a forward thinking nation to a nation of rules and restrictions.
However, this is also a man who wants to see the Federal Government intervene and send tariffs through the roof, to levels not seen since Keynesian economics was thought to be sound policy.
Sorry Bob, the free marketeers won the economic debate. Socialism is over. When it comes to economic interference, the market gets it right.
Further to this, he wants to force the end of the duopoly of the supermarket giants.
Again, this may come as a shock to Bob, but people are free to shop elsewhere.
A few years ago, I worked for a company called Metcash. For those unfamiliar with the supermarket wars, they own the IGA name, and rent the name out to independent supermarkets for a fee.
Metcash is also the wholesale supplier to these IGA outlets.
In addition to these independent stores, there's some German mob floating around claiming they can beat the prices of the big two, which is correct. They go by the name of Aldi.
The quality may not be as good on some products, and I emphasise SOME, but their market share is rising at the expense of Coles and Woolies.
If that wasn't to be enough, number four in the Australian Party's core values and principles refers explicitly to 'equitable distribution of income'. Now, once more, this may be news to Bob, but income re-distribution is exactly what the Carbon Tax is all about.
If the Mad Katter wants to genuinely fight against the Carbon Tax and all it is about, he should fight against income redistribution. Perhaps Bob is actually appreciative of socialism, he just prefers the old hardcore Stalinist approach rather than wrapping it up in a Green bow.
All this talk of economic protectionism and income redistribution also strikes me as a little, well, deranged, when we consider how much Katter wants to see the export of cattle to Indonesia continue.
I mean, the Government is intervening in the economy to stop the worst abuses at the moment, yet he is against it? Come on Bob, fight fair-are you in favour of government intervention in the economy or not? Because intervening in the cattle trade has just sent your constituents to the wall!
Indeed, it is the modernisation of the Nationals (And bravo to the likes of Vaile and Anderson on this front), which has achieved the abolition of trade barriers which allow us to move our agricultural product offshore.
The irony is, if it wasn't for the Nats walking away, for the most part, from agrarian socialism, even more farms would have gone to the wall.
On the ideological front, all Katter needs to do is take the Red Greens out of that party, such as Lee Rhiannon and Sarah Hanson-Young, and bring them together with the old-style rednecks that inhabited One Nation.
In fact, that's all Katter's new party is-the economic Greens meeting the social One Nationers.
Turning the page, though, Katter has made the rookie mistake every other lunatic fringe party makes-attacking the parties which Australians are drawn to.
Now, nobody in their right mind would, for a second, declare the Coalition and Labor are perfect.
However, for these parties to have run the show for so long should indicate they have done at least something right.
The problem is not railing against the ruling orthodoxy. If it was, Natasha Stott-Despoja would be Prime Minister and Pauline Hanson would be Opposition Leader.
Instead, the problem is the negativity of the current political debate.
And how does Katter propose to be different from the whingeing major parties? By whingeing some more. Nice.
Katter would do well to take his lead from parties which have established themselves a little more.
I'm thinking of the NSW parliament, where there have been two iron-clad guarantees in the Upper House in recent times.
The Christian Democrats and the Shooters Party.
Now, I'm not a huge fan of the Shooter's Party, and I think the Christian Democrats have no place in politics because religion has no place in politics.
However, these parties have established themselves because they promote positive agendas.
You don't need to agree with them, but when you see them at election time, they're all smiles, sunshine and rainbows about their ideas.
I don't agree that God has a place in the classroom (Assuming God exists), but the key messages they put out do not attack anyone.
Likewise the Shooters. In fact, I don't recall too much whingeing from them on any topic, and it's not as though the Shooters would have been in favour of Marine Parks.
Instead, these parties advance a positive agenda.
Meanwhile, Bob Katter kicks off his new party by bitching about the supermarket duopoly, bemoaning the lack of a manufacturing sector in Australia, and whining about the lack of freedom in Australia.
In considering the negativity with which Katter has launched his new party, consider how the agendas of the past 'rebel' parties have gone.
The Democrats sought to create a more honest polity where they were the centre party trying to keep the major players honest. The Democrats are dead, and anyone who tries to negotiate a truce is considered to be without conviction.
One Nation rebelled against political correctness and the Aboriginal lobby. One Nation is dead, we have a journalist being sued under racial discrimination laws for questioning Aboriginal identity, and its' former leader is being targeted by election fraud hoaxes.
The Greens wanted a party to concentrate on environmental concerns and embrace a progressive agenda on social rights. People who now campaign for environmental causes are considered hippies, and anyone who dares utter their concerns about gay rights is branded homophobic and living in the dark ages.
Any time a political party is founded on negativity, you can almost guarantee that party will die a pathetic death.
Instead, all lasting reforms have taken place from a positive framework.
Bob Hawke's floating of the dollar and tariff reductions came because he wanted Australia to be more competitive.
Paul Keating's engagement with South East Asia came about because he wanted Australia to take a more senior role in our region.
John Howard's GST was due to a desire for a simplified tax system, and the strengthening of our boatpeople laws was because he wanted the people to feel more in control of their nation's borders.
Positive politics and negative politics have their places in campaigns, but when you try to establish a new party, positive sells, and anyone who wants to establish a new party in the future would do well to remember this.
Keith Topolski is a former member of the NSW Young Liberal Executive and is currently completing a Bachelor of Communications