BILLIONAIRE casino mogul James Packer has backed maverick MP Bob Katter’s state election gamble with a $250,000 donation in a highly unusual splash into Queensland politics.

Katter’s Australian Party now has the support of three of Australia’s most powerful men: Mr Packer, talkback king Alan Jones and advertising guru John Singleton.Jamies packer picture from Sunday Telegraph

The massive donation and an extra $50,000 from Mr Singleton gives the fledgling party a major financial shot in the arm as it prepares to field 76 candidates in the state’s 89 seats in the March 24 poll.

“The Packers have always been our people,” Mr Katter told The Sunday Mail in a statement.

“James’s grandfather started business with, and was a close friend of, one of my greatest heroes, Red Ted Theodore. They were great supporters of the labour movement … in the late 1800s.

“There is no surprise to have this support for our patriotic line of defending Australia and Australian industry.”

Mr Packer’s donation is one of the biggest recorded from a single donor in Queensland and was made on February 24 through Treysta Pty Ltd, owned by his private company Consolidated Press Holdings.

The Electoral Commission of Queensland was advised of the transaction last week under requirements for donations of more than $100,000 to be registered within 14 days.

Mr Katter had opposed pokies reforms that could have cost Mr Packer’s Crown casino empire up to $145 million, Merrill Lynch analysts said last year.

Last June Mr Katter confirmed he had met Mr Packer as the Federal Government considered the reforms, centred on forcing pokies gamblers to set limits on their losses.

“We’ve had everyone and his brother meeting with us … James Packer is obviously one you don’t forget,” he said then.

Ranked Australia’s eighth-wealthiest person in BRW last year with a $4.1 billion fortune, Mr Packer is behind Melbourne’s Crown Casino and Perth’s Burswood Casino and is building a $41 million Sydney mega-mansion. He last month doubled to 10 per cent his stake in Echo Entertainment, which operates Sydney’s Star City Casino as well as Brisbane’s Treasury Casino and the Gold Coast’s and Townsville’s Jupiters casinos.

Mr Singleton part-owned pubs and his ad agency, Banjo, spearheaded a multi-million-dollar campaign for the pokies lobby with the slogan “Who voted for a licence to punt?”.

Vocal supporter Alan Jones works for radio station 2GB, which is part-owned by Mr Singleton. Mr Jones is a fierce opponent of coal seam gas mining and Katter’s Australian Party wants to halt the industry pending further investigations.

Mr Packer and Mr Singleton now sit alongside the Sporting Shooters Association of Queensland, which gave $100,000 to the party.

Large donations must go towards running the party, which last week lost a costly court bid to pulp 7.1 million ballot papers because they did not carry the Katter name.

Mr Katter’s statement said of the Packers: “I would have been disappointed if he didn’t get behind us. This is tribal.”

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