By HARRY CLARKE
KATTER’s Australian Party has recruited Adam Burling, a candidate in the Callide by-election who was initially running as an independent, to join the party and run for office as a KAP member.
Burling, a coal miner from Biloela, contested the seat as an independent in 2020 and had registered as an independent again for the forced by-election scheduled for June 18.
In his first interview as the KAP’s candidate for Callide, Burling told the Caller his political views were “strongly aligned” with the minor party, which currently has MPs in the North Queensland seats of Traegar, Hinchinbrook and Hill.
Burling lives with his wife and four children at Biloela and works at the Callide coal mine.
He grew up on a property at Longreach and went to university in Townsville. He has lived and worked in managerial positions in the resources sector at several Queensland towns including Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Mackay and Clermont.
Burling’s father was a horse instructor and long time National party member who once ran for preselection against long-serving Gregory MP Vaughan Johnson.
“Mum’s side of the family were all railway workers – strong Labor people,” said Burling, who is a member of the mining workers union.
“I’ve had a diverse background. I think I’ve got the life experience and the cross section of upbringing that would see me really empathise, from the coast to the rural sectors.”
Burling said his biggest concern for the future of Callide was the transition to renewable energy and what he saw as a lack of clarity about how workers in the fossil fuels industry would be re-employed, as coal and gas development phased out.
“It’s through my work and through where I’m living now that progressed my ambition to become a representative for Callide,” he said.
“I’m concerned about the lack of realistic progression from coal-fired power stations.
“I think all this talk about shutting down coal-fired power stations and moving to green hydrogen outside of our electorate is going to cost us a lot of jobs and it’s going to see these towns suffer – real estate, industry, jobs for our kids, and socio economic levels.
“I know clean energy is the future but I just want to see that our electorate is going to be part of that.
“We have a solar farm being built here (near Biloela) with 250 jobs in construction. I asked the local council how many of those jobs are ongoing. There are six.
“The way it’s being done at the moment, there are no future jobs there. There are not the jobs there that they are talking about. I just want a realistic assessment of it all and for the parties to be truthful about what the plan is and how we’re going to be involved.”
Burling said he believed blue hydrogen and green hydrogen production should be at the forefront of the renewable energy transition. He said other campaign issues included road infrastructure and healthcare.
“I’m really concerned about our famers as well, with reef regulations and tree clearing laws and the restrictions and the blame they’re getting for degradation of the environment and the reef. It’s just unjustified,” he said.
“I’ve grown to love Biloela, the surrounds and the electorate and I think it’s a great place. We’re very diverse but I just want to work on protecting what we’ve got here.
“Unfortunately I don’t see that the LNP are doing that. Because we’ve got such a safe seat, they know that they don’t have to do much to keep the seat and Labor knows they can’t win the seat, so they don’t do much to try and win it.
“We’re in a pretty poor position politically here, and I just think representing as an independent or a minor party that will have the balance of power in the very near future and I think what’s just happened in the federal election is testament to that.”
KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said the party was very proud to endorse Mr Burling, who he was confident would make a “very powerful” MP.
“No electorate in Queensland has ever regretted electing a KAP MP – we are unashamed in our convictions and our allegiance to the advancement of rural and regional Queensland,” Katter said.
“Our allegiance to the coal workers, to the farmers and the battlers and to the every day people who feel forgotten by their two major parties is unquestionable.
“Callide would be a much stronger place if it elected a KAP MP on June 18.”