KAP: ‘We must put people before crocs’
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.”
Bob Katter in full flight at the crocodile management forum organised by the KAP