FORMER North Queensland Cowboys and Canberra Raiders backliner Rod Jensen has been announced by the Katter Australia Party as its candidate for the Far North seat of Leichhardt in the upcoming federal election.

Jensen, who now works as a teacher, a mentor for young Indigenous youth and as chief executive of the Northern Pride rugby league club, played 134 first grade games for Canberra, North Queensland and Huddersfield in the UK.

He’ll be taking on LNP incumbent Warren Entsch in Leichhardt, which he has held comfortably since 2010 and and which encompasses parts of Cairns and most of the Cape York Peninsula.

Jensen said his life journey had taught him the importance of education and opportunity, which was why he wanted to campaign for reform of vocational education.

“Certificates and trade skills should transcend the classroom to real world industry. Schools and Registered Training Organisations should be held accountable for business practices that see training for training purposes,” Jensen said. 

Rod Jensen played 134 first grade game of rugby league. IMAGE: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

He said he would also be campaigning for stronger economic development, improvements to the Far North’s health and aged care systems, and changes to Indigenous adoption laws.

“Every time there is an escalation in conflict, or a major weather event, and most recently with COVID, the first people who get hurt are those of us in Far North Queensland,” he said. 

“Fuel prices are out of control, there’s no food on the shelves, the roads are cut off and there’s no way the services are getting to the people, especially in remote areas. 

“I feel there’s no conversation between Far North Queensland and Canberra.  I find our people aren’t being heard on infrastructure, economic development, health and services.   

“I’m the guy, just like everybody else, sitting on the couch saying, ‘What are they doing, why are they not listening to us?’  

“But I don’t want to be the person sitting on the couch any longer.  I want to be person that’s stepping forward, and takes the voice of the people, the working and aspirational class people, to government.”

Katter Australia Part leader Robbie Katter. IMAGE: News Corp

KAP Leader, Robbie Katter, said the party was “very happy to invest in a bloke that is home grown and in his own words ‘is interested in understanding community’ rather than interested in politics”. 

“Too many people entering politics today are lured to the perceived status that comes with becoming a high-profile figure when what we really need are people focussed on improving their environment,” Katter said. 

“Modern Australian politics has a vast oversupply of careerists and desperately needs people who are for change. Rod is an articulate person driven by desire to make a difference not to be popular. 

“This places him in a unique opportunity with the KAP to deliver some change in direction for the Far North.” 

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