KAP: ‘We must put peo­ple be­fore crocs’

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Shane Ni­chols

IT was sup­posed to be Robbie Kat­ter’s and Shane Knuth’s meet­ing, but Kat­ter se­nior pre­dictably stole the show at the fo­rum on crocodile man­age­ment in Port Dou­glas last Thurs­day.

At the meet­ing in the com­mu­nity hall – one of sev­eral com­mu­nity meet­ings the Kat­ter’s Aus­tralia Party MPs have held in the re­gion this week – Bob Kat­ter even­tu­ally got to his feet and with the full force of his out­sized per­son­al­ity blasted the halls of power in Bris­bane for not com­pre­hend- ing or ad­dress­ing the croc prob­lem. “You’ve got one bloke be­ing ripped to shreds re­cently, an­other just put his toe in the wa­ter and got at­tacked, but the premier doesn’t do any­thing about it.

“She says croc­o­diles mat­ter more than peo­ple,” thun­dered Bob, to the hearty agree­ment of the 50 or so peo­ple in the au­di­ence. Robbie Kat­ter later told the

that like the meet­ing in Port Dou­glas, the ones at In­n­is­fail and Ma­reeba had ex­pressed a de­sire to see con­crete ac­tion to curb crocodile be­hav­iour in ar­eas where they over­lapped with hu­mans, and specif­i­cally to do some­thing about the “ex­plo­sion” in their num­bers.

The KAP has high am­bi­tion at the next elec­tion for the state seat of Cook. But Robbie Kat­ter said that’s not the main im­pe­tus for the meet­ings.

“I see this as a north Queens­land is­sue. We need to stand on prin­ci­ple on some things here in North Queens­land, and stand to­gether, if they’re big enough, and say, ‘lis­ten, gov­ern­ment in Bris­bane, there’s some non-ne­go­tiables with us and some­times we need to you act. If peo­ple are be­ing ripped apart, then ob­vi­ously we’ve got some prob­lems.”

Lo­cals who spoke at the meet­ing were united in the view that a crocodile at­tack would be dev­as­tat­ing for the tourism in­dus­try. “The in­ci­dence of croc­o­diles ap­pear­ing in pub­lic wa­ter­ways is a to­tally un­ac­cept­able risk,” said ac­com­mo­da­tion owner Wendy Cross­man.

Surf life sav­ing stal­wart Michael Bolt re­marked that last year two English tourists had asked whether it was safe to walk along Four Mile Beach.

Ge­orge Pitt made a very pointed ob­ser­va­tion com­par­ing the num­bers of croc­o­diles seen lately, with what was nor­mal years ago. “We hardly saw a croc in ’70s,” he said.

He was asked when did he think greater crocodile num­bers be­came more ap­par­ent.

“From 2011 we could see it get­ting worse,” he said, “but es­pe­cially in the past two years.

“They’re not afraid any­more. “They’re in the creek at Four Mile Beach, in Dick­son, Mu­uddy – they’re in all the creeks all the way up.”

Like the Kat­ters he had a cen­tral mes­sage: “Hu­man life comes first. Let’s prac­tise that.”

Pic­ture: SHANE NI­CHOLS

Bob Kat­ter in full flight at the crocodile man­age­ment fo­rum or­gan­ised by the KAP

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