CORANGAMITE MP Darren Cheeseman has fired the first shots at Bob Katter’s Australian Party as it prepares to announce a candidate for the ultra-marginal seat.
Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) has revealed plans to field candidates in every electorate around the nation — except for South Australia as part of an agreement with independent senator Nick Xenophon.
This week the outspoken Queensland member told The Standard Corangamite was “in our gun sights”.
Yesterday, Mr Cheeseman said he had no qualms about meeting a Katter candidate on the campaign trail.
The move by KAP will further muddy the voting lines in the complicated electorate, which includes parts of Geelong, the Great Ocean Road and Colac.
Mr Cheeseman said Labor had defied expectations when it captured the seat in 2007.
“People said it would always be a conservative seat and we proved them wrong,” he said.
“Bring it on.”
Describing KAP policies as “nutty”, Mr Cheeseman said he would welcome the chance to spar against a Katter candidate.
“I’ll be campaigning for better funding for public schools and the duplication of the Princes Highway to Colac,” he said.
Mr Cheeseman also anticipated the maverick MP would seek to campaign on upheaval in the dairy industry.
“Bob Katter’s view of the world would be to re-regulate the price of milk. We’re largely an export nation and if we implement protections like that we could expect other nations to respond in kind,” he said.
He said Mr Katter needed to accept that deregulation had been implemented long ago by the Howard government.
“As a consequence we need two things to occur — either a correction in the high Australian dollar, which lower interest rates would assist, but we need sustainable dairy farms. We need to make sure that they’re large enough to be viable.”