Last Friday, I was invited to contribute an editorial for "Voices of Regional Australia", a daily pre-election email put out by Australian Community Media (publishers of the North West Star).
This was my contribution:
Greetings from Katter country in north-west Queensland. The vast seat of Kennedy, stretching from the Pacific to the NT border, has been Bob Katter's personal fiefdom since 1993, and though he turns 74 a week after the election, he has no intention of releasing his grip on power.
Considered a lovable clown by Canberra, Mr Katter's relationship with locals is more complex and he needed preferences to survive the 2013 election, the one time the LNP put up a strong candidate against him.
North West Queensland is an economic powerhouse in mining and agriculture but there are serious issues around poor telecommunications, second-class transport links, and lack of services.
Mr Katter acknowledges these failings but got testy with the North West Star when we suggested he bore some responsibility.
He prefers to put big store by the $2b the PM pledged to rebuild the cattle industry after the devastating February floods, which Mr Katter claims was mainly due to him. True or not, the election is flying by without a ripple locally, as Mr Katter seemingly powers towards a tenth win. Neither Labor nor the LNP will preference the other ahead of Bob.
The closest local voters get to see Scott Morrison or Bill Shorten is the trails from their planes overhead as they fly between Brisbane, Townsville and Darwin.
Even Bob himself was not seen in the region until barely a week before the election, with only fleeting visits from the Labor and LNP candidates.
The Greens candidate said he "couldn't afford" to come to Mount Isa and the drop-in Fraser Anning candidate simply pointed to Senator Anning uttering "what he said".
He may not have a clue but we do. We know that whoever wins power in Canberra on May 18 will have to reckon with three certainties: death, taxes and more Bob Katter shenanigans. Actually, you can chalk up a fourth certainty: Whatever happens, the North West Star will continue to call all politicians to account to demand a better deal for our region.