OPENLY-gay Liberal National Party candidate Jonathan Pavetto will give Bob Katter a run for his money when they go head-to-head for the Far North Queensland seat of Kennedy in the upcoming Federal election.

Katter, who has held the seat of Kennedy for over 20 years, infamously claimed in 1989 that there were no homosexual people living in his electorate – and promised to walk ‘backwards from Bourke to Brisbane’ if any were found.

Pavetto was brought up in a fifth-generation Italian sugarcane farming family and is openly gay. He does not think his sexuality will be an issue in the election as the communities in Kennedy are inclusive and welcoming, as are his LNP party members.

While the LNP does not have the best record on LGBTI issues, Pavetto said it is changing.

“I’m not the first gay person in the LNP, there’s a lot of other gay people inside the party,” he said.

The LNP is the party of personal freedoms and responsibility and those values are important for everyone and should be even more important to gay people. There are many people progressing gay issues.”

Pavetto said the world is a different place to when Katter was first elected and his views about sexuality are out of step with his local community.

His focus in this election is on making sure North Queensland does not miss out as they have been overlooked for a long time.

“A lot of the decisions were made by Labor governments that didn’t further the interests of family farming but also did an incredible amount of damage to regional communities that rely on farming,” Pavetto said.

The most pressing issues for the Kennedy electorate, according to Pavetto, are campaigning against the proposed increased energy prices in Queensland and the development of the inland Hann Highway that would connect Cairns to Melbourne. At present, more infrastructure spending and jobs comes first, social issues at the moment come second to the economic ones in the views of the LNP membership.

Pavetto is an economist by background and has done a lot of work analysing electricity prices over the years.

“We use a lot of electricity for air conditioning in the summer to live.  The work I’ve done found that the state government is taking billions of dollars out of the electricity sector each year as a de facto tax increasing electricity prices 40 percent to the consumer,” he said.

He also feels Queensland’s upcoming July lockout laws are an unmitigated disaster.

“There’s nothing about the lockout laws that make sense. There’s no proof that lockout laws reduce alcohol fuelled violence, but there’s ample proof that lockout laws destroy small businesses and recreational opportunities,” he said.

“It’s very important here in North Queensland, with youth unemployment at crisis point that these lockout laws will only add to young people’s job losses making a bad situation worse.”

Australian Marriage Equality (AME) has welcomed the LNP’s endorsement of an openly-gay candidate for the conservative seat.

“The fact the LNP has selected Jonathan Pavetto as its candidate in Kennedy is a welcome sign of how rapidly old prejudices are evaporating,” AME national director Rodney Croome said.

Gay Australians make important contributions to every family and community and Mr Pavetto’s proud contribution is a reminder of this.”

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