Truss, Katter in fierce feud

THE FIERCE feud between Nationals leader Warren Truss and big-hatted Independent Bob Katter may decide whether Labor or the Coalition wins government.

And it's mostly over the price of milk.

Mr Katter, who trounced his opposition to hold the North Queensland seat of Kennedy, does not like Mr Truss and makes no secret about it.

And the Member for Wide Bay confirmed yesterday: “We don't talk very much. He's a constant critic of mine.”

Mr Katter is now working in a bloc with two other Independents but, even if the Coalition wins Hasluck and Brisbane, it will likely need the declared support of the three Independents.

Party insiders are aware that Mr Katter may seek to strike a deal that removes Mr Truss as Nationals leader and therefore as deputy prime minister before he commits to supporting the Coalition.

“I don't think the relationship's that bitter,” Mr Truss said.

“We choose our leaders. I think Bob Katter doing that is hypothetical fantasy.”

But as recently as early Sunday morning, just 14 hours after the polls closed here, Mr Katter slammed Mr Truss on Tony Eastley's ABC AM program.

“I just ask the people of Australia, was it good to deregulate the dairy industry? Mr Truss facilitated and precipitated that," he said.

“The price of milk went up dramatically. Our exports of cheese and all of those things dropped dramatically.

“It was Warren Truss who was the leader at the time.”

Mr Truss denies he was responsible for dairy deregulation.

“It was the State Government. All we did was offer the farmers a $2 billion compensation package.”

The Chronicle understands both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott have called Mr Katter, who was, a staffer confided yesterday, sitting back in his electorate “catching his breath and evaluating his position”.

Mr Truss was back in his electorate saying: “It may be that a stable government will require all three of the Independents."

"Meanwhile this is empty speculation. I do know that people don't want another election.”

Mr Truss said he was not “directly involved” in the negotiations among the Independents and Mr Abbott.

A staff member from Mr Katter's office called last night to say Mr Katter would be meeting with party leaders in Canberra today.



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