Conservative north Queensland politician Bob Katter has announced he will step back as leader of Katter’s Australia Party.
The Charters Towers–based MP will hand over leadership of the party to son Robbie Katter, who has represented north west Queensland in state parliament since 2012, the Brisbane Times has reported.
“[Bob] takes a lot of managing, but I think it is healthy in a relationship to have tension and conflict,” said Robbie Katter.
“We will keep him going as long as we can – he still has a fair bit to offer.”
His father, aged 74, has been in politics for more than four decades.
Bob Katter is known for his eccentric personality and has a history of anti-gay comments, which have often been bizarre.
In 1989, he claimed there were no gay people in north Queensland, promising to “walk backwards from Bourke” if they represented more than a vanishingly small minority.
He added, “Mind you, if there are more, then I might take to walking backwards everywhere!”
“People are entitled to their sexual proclivities,” he said.
“Let there be a thousand blossoms bloom, as far as I’m concerned.
“But I ain’t spending any time on it, because in the meantime, every three months, a person is torn to pieces by a crocodile in north Queensland.”
Katter was just last year slammed for calling homosexuality a “fashion trend”.
“In my whole life up to 50, I had never seen or heard of a homosexual person,” he said.
“Now it’s fashionable, it’s just like a fashion trend – tomorrow there’ll be another fashion.”
Mental health experts at the time called his comments “damaging”.
“We know that people who identify as LGBTQI have no more choice over their sexual preference than those who are heterosexual, and we also know that young people who are LGBTQI are at higher risk of distress and even suicide, so comments like this – that can challenge their identity – can have quite a detrimental impact on young people’s mental health,” said Dr Kerrie Buhagiar, director of service delivery at ReachOut.
“When a comment is made that could be damaging or cause distress to a group of people we should question whether those comments are viable or not.”
While stepping down as leader, Katter will continue as a member of his party.
“I’ll have to get the whip out,” said Robbie Katter.