Katter Party boss in tilt for Senate
Ray Hopper, pictured with Bob Katter, will run for a senate seat. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
Former Liberal National Party stalwart and current leader of Katter's Australian Party, Ray Hopper, will make a Senate tilt, while still calling the Newman government to task for discrimination.
The member for Condamine, who made headlines late last year when he defected from the LNP, claims he has been discriminated against by the government.
Mr Hopper said it wasn't until he made a complaint with the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission that he was given a "decent" office, having previously been placed in a parliamentary storeroom.
"There was all this moving around with security and here in my office, they had public access," Mr Hopper told reporters on Thursday.
"So I made a complaint to the Speaker about that and I think that also might have helped me get a decent office."
Mr Hopper said he would continue to fight for the Katter Party to receive party status in the Queensland parliament.
"There are seven cross benches here and there are seven Labor members, so we should have half the questions in parliament," Mr Hopper said.
But Mr Hopper said he would be throwing his hat in the ring for a Senate spot which, if successful, would see him swap the Queensland parliament for Canberra.
Senate tickets will be just one of the issues discussed at the KAP national executive meeting on Friday.
"I'll put my hands up, of course I will," he said.
"A byelection would not cost the state government a thing because it would be held on the same day as the federal government [election] and if I was to do that, that is exactly what would happen.
"There would be a byelection when the September federal election is, which would not cost the state of Queensland a thing."
But despite his favourite status, Mr Hopper said he would stand aside if a better candidate came along.
"If we get someone who puts their hand up for the Senate who could possibly get the extra votes that we need to get the senator into place, I would happily stand down, if I was comfortable to know that that person would be a good senator."
Friday's meeting is not expected to be all smooth sailing; several controversies have plagued the party in recent weeks, including the disendorsing of candidates following their comments on same-sex marriage.
Mr Hopper said there was a possibility some members would be expelled from the party at the meeting.
While the party's founder, Bob Katter, called same-sex marriage a non-issue, others, including former national secretary Bernard Gaynor said it was tearing the party apart, particularly following the selection of ACT Senate candidate Steven Bailey, who supports marriage equality.
"I don't believe it is tearing the party apart at all," Mr Hopper said.
"Mr Gaynor is very outspoken, he has a right to be outspoken as an individual but he doesn't have a right to be outspoken on behalf of the Katter Party.
"When you've got 3500 members you are going to have people who are unhappy. It happens in the Liberal National Party, it happens in the Labor Party, it happens in every political party in this nation.
"I think it will be a very good meeting tomorrow and I am looking forward to it. We are going to go ahead with leaps and bounds."
Mr Gaynor, one of the party members facing expulsion, said the KAP was facing an ‘‘internal crisis’’ and gay marriage ‘‘will be on the agenda’’.
‘‘I know because I will be stating my case to retain my membership to the management committee,’’ he said in a statement.
‘‘That will involve a vigorous defence of the party's previous position to defend Christian values and traditional marriage.
‘‘It will then be up to Bob Katter and the management committee to decide whether they want me or Steven Bailey.’’