Mining magnate Clive Palmer and Independent MP Bob Katter have both established their own parties ahead of the election.
The right wing vote could be split even further with Pauline Hanson again attempting to make a comeback to federal politics.
Thea Cowie reports.
Colourful Queensland MP Bob Katter is known for causing a stir wherever he goes.
His controversial one-liners often overshadow the political nous which has seen him maintain his seat of Kennedy in north Queensland since 1993.
His father Robert Katter held the same seat for 24 years.
A former National Party member, Bob Katter says he left the party in 2001 after becoming disenchanted with the Coalition’s support of National Competition Policy and economic rationalism.
After more than a decade as an independent he’s now looking to spread his political ideology with his Katter’s Australian Party launched in May.
He says the KAP will give voters the option they’re looking for.
“In the last election, the people of Australia said we’re not going to vote for you any longer. We’ve had enough. You’re just continuing with the same policies, we’re all losing our jobs, we’re all going broke and we’re seeing our country being sold off. We’re not going to do it any longer.”
Mr Katter says his policies include repealing any tax on carbon, making ethanol mandatory to reduce petrol prices and relaxing recreational fishing rules.
Last year Mr Katter called for the federal government to make annual payments to parents of $7,000.
He warned unless the payments were made, Australians would become what he called a vanishing race in ten years.
Representing regional farmers, Mr Katter has lobbied for the restoration of live cattle exports to Indonesia, breaking down the supermarket duopoly and the introduction of food labelling that reflects how “Australian” the contents is.
Mr Katter is also highly critical of Labor and Kevin Rudd’s approach to Indigenous issues.
“They believe that white fellas should go in there and build all these houses for them, and fix everything up for them. You know, I have the exact opposite position. Mahatma Gandhi had it right: ‘Even though we may not be able to run India as well as the British, it is infinitely more important that Indians run India, even though we may not be able to run it as well’.”
Also threatening to split the conservative vote is the newly-established Palmer United Party.
Announcing his bid to enter federal politics, Clive Palmer stated he should be leading the country.
“I thought I should make it absolutely clear to you. The reason I am standing for federal parliament is that I’m standing to be the next Prime Minister of Australia. That’s why we’ve got the United Australia Party. We’re not there to compete with the Katter Party. We’re there to change the government of this country and that’s the reason we’re standing. As far as Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott go, there really is no difference. They’re all controlled by the same lobbyist consultancies who employ former ex-Liberal and former ex-Labor (people) so it doesn’t matter what happens the people miss out.”
Clive Palmer is famous for big, ambitious ideas.
After dropping out of university in the 1970s, Mr Palmer went into real estate and made around $40 million in property development.
In the 1980s his career in mining began with investments in iron ore deposits in Western Australia.
Since then Mr Palmer’s resources portfolio has grown extensively and last year Forbes magazine estimated he was Australia’s 29th richest person: worth around US$800 million.
Mr Palmer’s ambitious plans have included building a fleet of world class luxury liners including the Titanic Two, a 21st-century version of the ill-fated 1912 passenger ship.
He also has plans to build a park full of robot dinosaurs called “Jurassic Park”.
But the 59 year old says his decision to enter politics isn’t about fame or money.
“I think I can offer better service to the community than anyone else. I have no personal interest. I have made enough money in my life. I am not seeking any enrichment or wealth for myself, I am seeking it for the Australian people.”
A long-time financial supporter of the conservatives, Mr Palmer resigned his life membership of the Liberal National Party in 2012 after falling out with the party hierarchy.
Mr Palmer says his Palmer United Party would repeal the carbon tax and refund those who have paid it, ban lobbyists from having roles in political parties, colour-code Australian-made consumables and spend $80 billion on the health sector.
A government under Clive Palmer would also close overseas detention centres for asylum-seekers and process refugees at airports.
Mr Palmer has suggested asylum-seekers should be allowed to fly to Australia at one tenth of the cost of coming on people smugglers’ boats.
At last year’s Liberal Party conference he said asylum-seekers should be allowed to pay their own plane fare into Australia.
“Why have we got to give specific instructions to airlines in Indonesia: ‘don’t let these people travel normally, force them over to the people smugglers, put their lives in danger’? Why do we have to do that? If we’re going to do that then we’re responsible, the Gillard government is responsible for people drowning in the ocean.”
Another candidate seeking the conservative vote will be Pauline Hanson.
Despite once saying she would have to have rocks in her head to return to politics, the former One Nation leader has announced she will take her eighth stab at a parliamentary seat in 17 years.
This time Ms Hanson is running for a New South Wales Senate seat.
Announcing her decision to stand, Ms Hanson told reporters the major parties can’t be trusted.
She says, if elected, she’d work to counter what she calls a constant attack on the Australian way of life.
“If we are to preserve our heritage and our culture, and a decent standard of living, we must stand back and be counted. To stand back and do nothing is not the answer.”
Ms Hanson’s political career stretches back to 1996.
As an independent candidate, Ms Hanson won the Queensland seat of Oxley and wasted no time sparking controversy with comments Australia was in danger of “being swamped by Asians”.
More recently, Ms Hanson has focused her concerns on Muslims.
“We need to look at who we are bringing in here. And I think fundamentalist Muslims, we need to really have a strict look at whether we are going bring them into the country. We are foregoing our beliefs, our way of life to appease other people who come here. If they come here, be Australians. If you don’t want to, then go back where you came from.”
A year into her term in office as an independent, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party was formed and in 1998 the party captured 11 seats and 23 per cent of the vote in the Queensland state election.
Ms Hanson however failed to win federal re-election in 1998.
In 2003 Ms Hanson was jailed in Queensland for fraudulently registering her party and spent 73 days in prison before the charges were overturned.
Now 59 years old, Ms Hanson’s rejoined One Nation and is making a tilt for a Senate seat.
She’s named asylum-seekers, trust in the political system and welfare fraud as the issues she’ll stand on.
Policies include a $5,000 rebate on Australian-made cars, ensuring all government vehicles are Australian-made, labelling food to reflect how much is locally made and axing the carbon tax.
One Nation says it believes in zero net immigration and it doesn’t want migrants bringing in what it calls their problems, laws, culture and opposing religious beliefs.
It also says multiculturalism has failed everywhere, describing it as a negative weight drowning Australia’s once safe and cohesive society.
Both Labor and the Coalition have pledged to put constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians to a referendum some time after the election: a move Ms Hanson opposes.
But with so many new options for conservative voters, Opposition leader Tony Abbott is warning if they don’t vote directly for the Coalition, they’re likely to be stuck with a Labor government.
“If you vote for independents, if you vote for minor parties, if you vote for celebrities you’re likely to end up with either a Labor government or another hung parliament. No-one should want that.”